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  #31  
Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
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
Just answered my own question. It appears that halotron and other "clean agents" may or may not shut down the engine. If they don't the engine will rapidly expel the agent rendering it useless. I found one account of a boater who's Halon-alternative system fired off by accident and shut down his engine, but the USCG doesn't have confidence that it will do so. They do have confidence in CO2's ability to do so it seems.

Quote from HERE
4. Subchapter T was written assuming that Clean Agents would be the preferred extinguishing agents for these vessels since less of these agents, as opposed to CO2 , is needed to accomplish the same task. The thinking was that most small passenger vessels lacked sufficient space to accommodate CO2 cylinders. Since Clean Agents may be consumed by the engines, depleting the concentration to a point that it would not extinguish a fire, the requirement for an automatic shut down of the engines was included in the regulations. CO2, when ingested by an engine, will shut down the engine effectively serving as a shut down device. Therefore, operators who choose CO2 as the extinguishing agent may forgo the installation of a separate device to shut the engines down. This action may be taken under 46 CFR 175.540 as an equivalency.

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  #32  
Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

"Regardless, even $20 is cheaper than a new one"
$17.87 at your local Wal-Mart, among other places. Of course, they may be hiding in the kitchenware or hardware section, they're one of the products that bring blank stares when you ask if they carry them.

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Something else you want to check when looking at different extinguisher types, is the rating. 1A:10BC or 3A:40BC or similar. You may have a Class A (solid combustibles, wood, paper, etc.) fire on a boat, not just a Class B (liquids, fuels, grease) or Class C (electrical) and not all extinguisher types work for everything. The other two classes (D & K) are things you probably will deal with by pushing the big red button and abandoning ship.

The numbers are usually unexplained, but a "1A" rating means it works as well as ONE GALLON OF WATER. 2A, two gallons, etc. so a "1A" rating means you can basically put out a trash can or two and that's all. The numbers on the "BC" side are different, they refer to how many SQUARE FEET OF FIRE can be extinguished. So a "10B" can put out about a square yard of fuel fire. Or, blow it all over the boat and spread it. The "C" isn't really numbered or rated, it just means you can put out one electrical cause.

The ratings aren't perfect, the UL only recently came out with a totally new rating for Kidde's "Kitchen" extinguishers, that blow powder at less pressure and higher volume, so they don't spread burning grease the way conventional extinguishers do. And the various gasses and liquids all will work on everything, to some extent. Say what they will about CO2 and Halo-etceteras, but the cleanup sure beats any powder on the market.(G)

Santa probably didn't buy you a fire blanket because the preferred fabric for them now is aramid fiber, not just wool. Either one makes ordinary cashmere look cheap. But that's another thing to keep in mind, natural vs synthetic fibers. When you reupholster cushions, cotton/wool blends are available. Considering the upholstery foam is incredible flammable and gives off toxic smoke, you may want to "retard" that a bit by using natural fibers for the covering.
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  #33  
Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Hellosailor,

I seem to remember from previous threads that you are knowledgeable on the extinguisher subject, and a fan of Halon too if I remember correctly. Thanks for adding to the discussion. Class A fires worry me the least because I have an endless supply of water available and water is a prefered agent for class A fires.

Having a foam extinguisher for the kitchen might be a good thing, but having all the extinguishers be of the same type is preferable I think. I wouldn't want crew to have to know, "don't use the foam one on the batteries" and "don't use the dry one on the engine", and don't use the C02 one when people are below" etc. Halon and Halotron seem to be safe, effective, and require the least amount of expertise to operate.

Agreed about D, though a minor K fire (cooking grease) could be very likely. That's where I'd like to have the blanket in the galley. I didn't know that kidde's kitchen extinguisher is lower pressure. That's really a good thing for small spaces and grease but I would really like to avoid the dry extinguishers if possible

For compliance, I also found Walmart's <$20 extinguishers. Seems wasteful though to be buying 3 of those every year just to comply. Hiring a company to inspect the Halon ones I want to buy is probably a better idea, but again I hate not being able to maintain things myself. I still am having difficulty getting my head around the yearly inspection requirement as well. Do they really go bad that often? Some occupied building codes require some level of inspection every 30 days. Wow. That's a lot of extinguisher maintenance!

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  #34  
Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

The 30 day check is basically to make sure that somebody hasn't taken it, and the gauge is in the green. Check can be done by anybody, most larger office buildings have security or even janitorial crew do it. The annual maintenance isn't a whole lot different anymore, at least in California. They "rag and tag" them: look for pressure in the green, no signs of physical damage, tie intact on pull pin, attach a new inspection tag with the date punched. When they're old enough to require hydro-testing, it's generally cheaper to just replace the 5 pounders, 10 and up get hydro'ed.
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  #35  
Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Med-
I'm no pro, but I've had to use them more often than I'd have ever expected. And that's without smoking, in or out of bed.(G)
>>Halon
Yes, I figure there are enough other ways to save the ozone layer.

>>Class A fires worry me the least because I have an endless supply of water available
True. The problem is getting the water to the fire. You need to get to the bucket, fill the bucket, get the bucket to the fire, and repeat. ClassA fires tend to double in size every 30 seconds, and if your upholstery is burning, that's enough time to fill the cabin with toxic fumes. So grab-and-squirt beats the bucket brigade on time.

>>Having a foam extinguisher for the kitchen
The Kidde is a dry powder, same dry powder as "household" ABCs, just a different discharge pattern. Not as vigorous a blow but it should still work as a BC extinguisher and leave just the same mess. Actually, a less caustic mess, since there are two different powders in use these days, and the "kitchen" and "marine" ones often use the less caustic powder because apparently those picky consumers, they get upset about thousand dollar stoves and such rotting out after a fire. Go figure, huh? (G)

>>don't use the C02 one when people are below" etc. Halon and Halotron seem to be
Well, if I'm using any extinguisher, anyone who is below ought to be hoisting their butts out the forward hatch or some other exit and getting on deck ASAP. Even dry powder is going to stop their breathing pretty dramatically if they stay below.
I think a CO2 or Halon bottle is best deployed by being fixed in place, with the horn extending through a "fire port" or into the engine spaces. With a suitable placard about "PULL FOR ENGINE FIRE" or something similar. You'll see those on a lot of commercial boats, a pull handle in the cockpit that remotely discharges a bottle in the engine space. Remember, if you have an engine fire and open the compartment, there may be a huge flareup as extra air gets to the fire. So you want to be able to gas-flood that compartment without opening it.

A plain heavy wool blanket, a cheap itchy one from the thrift store, should work as a fire blanket. Impregnated with sodium silicate solution if you prefer, as that also dries to be a fire retardant. I don't know why, fire blankets have just gone out of style. Maybe because there's a risk that it will pull the flaming pan of oil towards the user?

>>Walmart's <$20 extinguishers. Seems wasteful though to be buying 3 of those every year just to comply.
Unless you're a commercial vessel, I don't see any reason to replace them annually.
AFAIK that is strictly a "regulated vessel" requirement, or a municipal building code requirement. My one remaining Halon bottle is an antique. I weigh it once in a while, and as long as it weighs full charge weight, I'm not going to question it. Same of CO2. If the postage scale says it is still up to weight--either it is still full of inert gas, or someone broke it, discharged it, and put in lead and ether to fool me. (Hey, thrillers have to be based on real life event, don't they?(G)

BTW, CO2 and Halon and the replacements all have their own issues. CO2 can cause frostbite and makes an unholy noise that might cause a new user to drop it. Halon (arguably) turns into carcinogenic gasses when combusted, and is available as a liquid AND a gas, two types. Whatever you decide on, try to check it out with the local FD or at least in videos beforehand.

And remember, firemen have no sense of humor if you offer them marshmallows on sticks. They prefer the little ones, in cocoa. (WEG)
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post

How was the cleanup afterwords? Was the powder all throughout the boat?
The powder creeps into every nook and cranny.
Clogs vacuum cleaner, like mud when wet.
Not fun at all, luckily there was no textiles in the room at that time.

Filling a engine room with powder would give a major pain in cleaning up.

I have used powder extinguishers in training several times.
Always outdoors putting out fire in a basin filled with water and a burning mix of diesel and gasoline on top.

It's very different from using powder in a small room...
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

I installed a 4 thousand dollar double pull (wooden hull) Halon system. Two years later CG says 'Nope! we've changed the rules. Another 4 grand on an FM gas system.?? Not enough room for a CO2. Had 3 major dry chems and a 2 inch japsco and 150 of hose and a fire bucket and an axe .Never used any of it but bet I'dve been glad to have it if I'd needed it.
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  #38  
Old 08-19-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

FWIW, fixed CO2 systems are SOP in the engine rooms of the world's shipping. There have been quite a few fatalities because of it, but it seems that the authorities still consider it the best way to go for now for all the reasons mentioned above.

An emerging trend is fixed water fogging nozzles (starting with fresh and then go to seawater after x minutes) which use amazingly little water but do cool the fire effectively and also exclude air without being as insidious a killer as CO2.
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  #39  
Old 08-20-2014
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"Regardless, even $20 is cheaper than a new one"
$17.87 at your local Wal-Mart, among other places. Of course, they may be hiding in the kitchenware or hardware section, they're one of the products that bring blank stares when you ask if they carry them.
Yes, buying a non refillable disposable extinguisher is an option. If you're ok with chucking them in the garbage and buying a new ones every few years. I prefer to buy better quality safety equipment for my boat and having it last for many years.
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Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

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Originally Posted by Classic30 View Post
FWIW, fixed CO2 systems are SOP in the engine rooms of the world's shipping. There have been quite a few fatalities because of it, but it seems that the authorities still consider it the best way to go for now for all the reasons mentioned above.
During the fire (that started in the engine room) on the MS Nordlys the CO2 system was not released because two of the engine room crew was not accounted for.
The two crew members was later found dead.
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