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post #21 of 53 Old 08-18-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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If your club has someone inspecting extinguishers and refilling them for $10 each, that's a personal favor from a club member or a business favor of some kind. It is impossible to find any extinguisher company that will refill a small extinguisher in any urban area for under $20, typically $25. And they charge just as much for businesses "on contract".
Or, your commodore might have taken hostages.

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Bad idea to store the extinguishers horizontally. Apparently the powder can work into the seals on the discharge, causing more problems. You and I might think this is not possible if the seal is good, but the folks who make them say to keep them vertical.

Apparently part of the problem is that extinguisher refill services are like life raft repacking services: Some are good, some are inexcusably poor, and you've got no way to tell until it is over. If the service does not keep the seals scrupulously clean, surgically clean, any powder residue can cause the new seals to leak, or the seals themselves can be defective, like any o-ring may be. So if an extinguisher has kept full pressure and full weight for five years....you know the seals are good. Now get it serviced, and it may leak out in six months because it wasn't refilled to the same standards as the original manufacturing.

Or was we damned Yankees say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The only extinguisher I have that has ever lost pressure (and some have gone over a decade) if the one that has been refilled. By a gen-you-whine certified authorized etceterized service.

You may also want to keep a pair of work goggles (not glasses, goggles) and a plain N95 type dust/particle filter mask at least with your primary extinguisher. That powder storm in a confined space brings a whole new meaning to the term "whiteout".
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post #22 of 53 Old 08-18-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

A short burst on the lever will probably never seal tight again(nature of the beast) and will have to be sent to a competent servicer.

Last edited by Capt Len; 08-18-2014 at 10:45 PM.
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post #23 of 53 Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
ShockT-
If your club has someone inspecting extinguishers and refilling them for $10 each, that's a personal favor from a club member or a business favor of some kind. It is impossible to find any extinguisher company that will refill a small extinguisher in any urban area for under $20, typically $25. And they charge just as much for businesses "on contract".
Or, your commodore might have taken hostages.
I don't think there is any special connections because we have had different companies do it over the years. More likely it is a volume deal. One or two guys over the course of the weekend checking at least 2 extinguishers per boat, plus selling new extinguishers to replace some that cannot be re-certified and refilling those that can. One company even brings little fire extinguisher squirt guns to give to the kids. It's good PR and it gets their name out there. Regardless, even $20 is cheaper than a new one.

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post #24 of 53 Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by Capt Len View Post
If a dry chem extinguisher has been sitting a while, turn it upside down and shake a bit to fluff .Big ones, you can feel the soda fall back and forth.Little ones are only a bit better than none . While you're at it check the gauge and dates.
If you turn it upside down while holding it close to your ear, you should be able to hear the powder rushing down to the other end.

The tip about turning them upside down regularly is to prevent the powder to form a hard lump.

If the powder is not lumpy and the pressure is OK, it should be good.
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post #25 of 53 Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Paying to certify an extinguisher annually is silly. However, this thread has motivated me to check mine. All in the green. We go way beyond the minimum requirement, which I think is more important than excessive inspections. We have 6 aboard.

As a bit of thread drift, I would encourage everyone to watch Yachting Monthly's, Crash Boat Series, on Fire. Pop off a powder extinguisher down below and you better know blindly how to get out. It will go zero/zero visibility in one second. Very valuable watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL_VdzjM-24
Powder released inside a small room will rapidly give zero visibility.
Powder will also give a lot of cleaning up afterwards.
So if you can put out the fire by other means - do it.

Fire blanket and/or fire spray can be useful to put out a small fire - less cleaning up.

I have used fire extinguisher once to put out a fire inside a boat..
An oil burning oven had a fault in the burner and started a fire.
I used the first bursts of powder to put out the fire.
In the reduced visibility i spotted a secondary fire above the oven and used the rest of the powder to fight this fire - but it would not die..

Then I realized - I had been trying to put out an electric light bulb...
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post #26 of 53 Old 08-19-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by knuterikt View Post
Powder released inside a small room will rapidly give zero visibility.
Powder will also give a lot of cleaning up afterwards.
So if you can put out the fire by other means - do it.

Fire blanket and/or fire spray can be useful to put out a small fire - less cleaning up.

I have used fire extinguisher once to put out a fire inside a boat..
An oil burning oven had a fault in the burner and started a fire.
I used the first bursts of powder to put out the fire.
In the reduced visibility i spotted a secondary fire above the oven and used the rest of the powder to fight this fire - but it would not die..

Then I realized - I had been trying to put out an electric light bulb...



How was the cleanup afterwords? Was the powder all throughout the boat?

This survey finding has caused me to do a lot of research on fire extinguishers and I must say I'm learning a lot. I also suddenly feel remiss in my previous plan of just having one more than the required number of extinguishers because they are all of the powder type. Sure, it may put out the fire, but the video that Minnewaska linked to really opened my eyes to not just the major mess issue, but the zero visibility issue which I think is a huge problem.

If you haven't watched the video yet, drop what you're doing and watch it NOW!
http://api.viglink.com/api/click?for...%3DaL_VdzjM-24


As Knuterikt experienced, you will loose your situational awareness nearly instantly, and if the fire flares up, is in more than one location or is complex somehow you may not have the visibility to find it. This is not good! Imagine an electrical fire where you put out the flames, and now don't have the visibility to turn off the electrics, or find the issue and isolate it.

So, I've been reading about all the different options for extinguishers and I think that I'll probably end up spending the extra money for genuine Halon. Halotron seems like a decent alternative but Halon is apparently twice as effective and not twice as expensive as Halotron. I like the idea of unmatched effectiveness, ease of cleanup (so no hesitation to use it) and safety in confined spaces.

C02 is clean, and has the advantage of being able to safely shut down a runaway diesel engine, but when concentrated Co2 gets toxic. I'm not sure if a bottle of CO2 discharged in a boat cabin would reach toxic levels. With Halon and Halotron you don't have to worry about it. Halon is what's recommended for aircraft, and I hear aircraft fires are a no-no as well.

I wonder if Halon would safely shut down a runaway diesel engine if sprayed into the air intake?

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post #27 of 53 Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by Capt Len View Post
A short burst on the lever will probably never seal tight again(nature of the beast) and will have to be sent to a competent servicer.
That is true, and it's just one of the reasons that ANY extinguisher that has been used (even for a micro-burst) MUST be refilled. There's a reason that the valve has a tiny zip tie on the pull pin. BTW, if the tie is broken, the extinguisher fails inspection, because it is assumed to have been used. It will also not be counted as being present on the boat, so if you ever have to use one, first order of business is to get it serviced or replaced.

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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post

(snippage)
C02 is clean, and has the advantage of being able to safely shut down a runaway diesel engine, but when concentrated Co2 gets toxic. I'm not sure if a bottle of CO2 discharged in a boat cabin would reach toxic levels. With Halon and Halotron you don't have to worry about it. Halon is what's recommended for aircraft, and I hear aircraft fires are a no-no as well.

I wonder if Halon would safely shut down a runaway diesel engine if sprayed into the air intake?

MedSailor
I've never seen that tested, the high compression ignition of fuel in a diesel is a very different kind of combustion. Somebody should try it!

I have a real Halon extinguisher aboard, and it was a freebie from a failed business tenant's server room. It is an extra (doesn't need to be counted, etc.), and I will only ever use it if I have an engine fire. CO2 should also be fine. Yes, it can get to irritant levels inside a cabin, but it would drive you out (burning sensation in nostrils and eyes) long before oxygen deprivation would become an issue. Others have stated that was the reason why they wouldn't consider keeping a CO2 unit on their boat.

Since actual Halon hasn't been made in 20 years, you'll have to find an existing one, or possibly buy one from a recycler (the gas itself is reclaimed from failing units and put into new ones).

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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

a. Having cleaned up after dry chemical a few times, I would generally try something else first. I hate people who panic and start spraying; they generally waste the extinguisher and now you haven't got one, make a hell of a mess, and generally get in the way. You always have time to think for a few seconds. I've put out a lot of lab fires by moving materials away and using a wet towel.

b. Yup, the visibility thing is something. I've seen guys shoot each other in the fog.

c. Yes, one use and they will leak to zero in a short time due to valve leakage. If recharged they often still leak down. Replace.

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post #30 of 53 Old 08-19-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by Brewgyver View Post
Since actual Halon hasn't been made in 20 years, you'll have to find an existing one, or possibly buy one from a recycler (the gas itself is reclaimed from failing units and put into new ones).
I did a search and they are surprisingly easy to find. Common even. By my research they're a little less than twice as expensive as Halotron and halon is supposedly twice as effective as Halotron.

So, I'd rather buy a 2.5lb halon bottle than a 5lb Halotron bottle. It should be a little cheaper, a little more effective, and half as big and heavy. Having said that, Halotron seems to be pretty good as well and refills may be easier to find.

Also, I make it a practice to always keep at least 4 extinguishers aboard (3 are required on my boat) since one can fail at any time and I like to always be in USCG compliance. (I seem to get boarded a lot)

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