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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Inspecting fire extinguishers
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-21-2014 11:51 PM
Classic30
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
I cannot offer more than my own experience over 50+ years, for what that's worth. Currently, the most effective means of fire fighting aboard a yacht are first, the fire blanket, then Halon (although that's now evidently against EPA Regulations) and its alternative variants Halotron et al in engine spaces and, finally, CO2 extinguishers. Despite representations to the contrary, unless one uses and extraordinary amount of CO2, the material does not, in and of itself, represent a health threat, at least not in comparison with a fire, but it is extraordinarily effective in most cases. The other extinguishers are, for the most part, little better than certificate candidates. If it's insurance certificates your worried about, by all means carry the ABC Extinguishers which might help in the event. If you want to protect and potentially save your boat in extremis, however, have Halotron dispensers in you engine spaces and CO2 Canisters handy in your living spaces.

FWIW...
I concur with the above.. but would stress that a Dry Chemical extinguisher should only be used in the confines of a small boat when you really, seriously, have no other options left.

The mess they make is extreme and pretty much anything you use one on (including a stove or engine!) will likely never look or work quite the same ever again. To say they 'trash the place' is an understatement.
08-21-2014 10:24 PM
svHyLyte
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
Sound's like you've been down the road that I'm on. I know that I'm going to have to comply with this because it's on the survey and insurance companies don't like interpretation, explanations or ambiguity. They like paper trails and compliance and such.

I may call up the surveyors at some point and have them come do a post-compliance inspection which I will send to insurance. Perhaps they'd be willing to modify their language so that it covers the safety aspects they feel are important, but isn't overly onerous on me.

I can see for example, that the recommendation to tag all extinguishers punishes you for carrying more than is required. How about a recommendation to inspect the USCG minimum and if I carry more I get bonus points??

I can also see your problem of the "uninspectable" extinguishers. Perhaps in my letter of compliance to the insurance company I will tell them I have replaced the current extinguishers with ones that don't require inspection. We'll see..... I DO plan to replace the 2x 10lb dry chem extinguishers on the boat. They're huge and heavy and that's a LOT of dry chemical. I'd much rather have more smaller bottles of clean agent extinguishers.

MedSailor
I cannot offer more than my own experience over 50+ years, for what that's worth. Currently, the most effective means of fire fighting aboard a yacht are first, the fire blanket, then Halon (although that's now evidently against EPA Regulations) and its alternative variants Halotron et al in engine spaces and, finally, CO2 extinguishers. Despite representations to the contrary, unless one uses and extraordinary amount of CO2, the material does not, in and of itself, represent a health threat, at least not in comparison with a fire, but it is extraordinarily effective in most cases. The other extinguishers are, for the most part, little better than certificate candidates. If it's insurance certificates you're worried about, by all means carry the ABC Extinguishers which might help in the event. If you want to protect and potentially save your boat in extremis, however, have Halotron dispensers in you engine spaces and Fire Blankets and CO2 Canisters handy in your living spaces.

FWIW...
08-21-2014 06:37 PM
ianjoub
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulinVictoria View Post
If they are powder ones, take them off the mount every 6 months, hold them upside down and give the bottom a sharp tap with a rubber mallet, ensures that the power isn't settling to form a block at the bottom.
This ^^^^^^, look at the gauge to be sure it is in the green, make sure the pin pulls easily, and unscrew the hose and make sure it is free of obstructions (insects like to nest in there).
08-21-2014 02:05 PM
MedSailor
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
I endured several weeks of BS over our, then, 6 month old Kidda ABC Fire Extinguishers with our insurance company after a Surveyor (for an insurance survey) added his "opinion" that having our Extinguishers examined and tagged annually would be "wise" and quoting the same "Standard" in his "recommendations". Consequently, our insurer then insisted that we do so and sign a "certificate of compliance" to that effect to maintain our policy. Among other matters, we have Extinguishers in each cabin/compartment as well as an automatic dispenser in our engine compartment, no fewer than 6 including a CO2 cylinder on the main bulkhead in our Salon so this would not have been an inexpensive proposition. Our Fire Service company flatly refused to "tag" our ABC dispensers indicating that they were not subject to inspection and were good as long as the gauges were "in the green". (Kidda's own literature includes a guaranty of a 12 year service life.) The matter was finally resolved but not without aggravation.

Later, our insurance agent, who also happens to be a sailor, told me to tell any future surveyor that if he had "helpful" suggestions, to include them in a separate page not a part of the formal Report of Survey to avoid unnecessary issues.

FWIW...

PS: In addition to the Extinguishers, we also have Fire Blankets strategically located including one on the locker door directly opposite the galley. Having once had to deal with a galley fire in a malfunctioning alcohol stove, I can attest that these do work, very well.

Sound's like you've been down the road that I'm on. I know that I'm going to have to comply with this because it's on the survey and insurance companies don't like interpretation, explanations or ambiguity. They like paper trails and compliance and such.

I may call up the surveyors at some point and have them come do a post-compliance inspection which I will send to insurance. Perhaps they'd be willing to modify their language so that it covers the safety aspects they feel are important, but isn't overly onerous on me.

I can see for example, that the recommendation to tag all extinguishers punishes you for carrying more than is required. How about a recommendation to inspect the USCG minimum and if I carry more I get bonus points??

I can also see your problem of the "uninspectable" extinguishers. Perhaps in my letter of compliance to the insurance company I will tell them I have replaced the current extinguishers with ones that don't require inspection. We'll see..... I DO plan to replace the 2x 10lb dry chem extinguishers on the boat. They're huge and heavy and that's a LOT of dry chemical. I'd much rather have more smaller bottles of clean agent extinguishers.

MedSailor
08-21-2014 01:58 PM
svHyLyte
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
But that's just it. That's exactly my question. It appears we boaters ARE all supposed to get our extinguishers all inspected and tagged OR for possibly lesser expense, buy 3 cheap new ones and throw them away every year.

Doesn't seem right, but that's what the survey says no?

All fire extinguishers without current inspection tags. Recommendation, have
extinguishers re-certified or replaced. IAW NFPA 302. **, ABYC A-4 AP 6.3 At one year
intervals, a full maintenance check should be made by a qualified fire extinguishing system service
facility in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. A tag should be attached
showing the date of such maintenance check.


MedSailor
I endured several weeks of BS over our, then, 6 month old Kidda ABC Fire Extinguishers with our insurance company after a Surveyor (for an insurance survey) added his "opinion" that having our Extinguishers examined and tagged annually would be "wise" and quoting the same "Standard" in his "recommendations". Consequently, our insurer then insisted that we do so and sign a "certificate of compliance" to that effect to maintain our policy. Among other matters, we have Extinguishers in each cabin/compartment as well as an automatic dispenser in our engine compartment, no fewer than 6 including a CO2 cylinder on the main bulkhead in our Salon so this would not have been an inexpensive proposition. Our Fire Service company flatly refused to "tag" our ABC dispensers indicating that they were not subject to inspection and were good as long as the gauges were "in the green". (Kidda's own literature includes a guaranty of a 12 year service life.) The matter was finally resolved but not without aggravation.

Later, our insurance agent, who also happens to be a sailor, told me to tell any future surveyor that if he had "helpful" suggestions, to include them in a separate page not a part of the formal Report of Survey to avoid unnecessary issues.

FWIW...

PS: In addition to the Extinguishers, we also have Fire Blankets strategically located including one on the locker door directly opposite the galley. Having once had to deal with a galley fire in a malfunctioning alcohol stove, I can attest that these do work, very well.
08-21-2014 12:54 PM
MedSailor
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
Med,

I used to take my fire extinguishers to a place over on market street, downtown ballard. Think they had a "deal" for boaters. Five bucks was the charge. Not too spendy to be in compliance.
Nice. That wouldn't be to bad at all.

Another thought I had was to buy all the expensive halon extinguishers from our local guy in town and see if he'd throw in several years of inspections as part of the deal. Wouldn't cost him anything and might secure my business.

Medsailor
08-21-2014 03:38 AM
aeventyr60
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Med,

I used to take my fire extinguishers to a place over on market street, downtown ballard. Think they had a "deal" for boaters. Five bucks was the charge. Not too spendy to be in compliance.
08-21-2014 12:42 AM
nwsaildude
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

I might have missed something in this thread, but I had a chat with one of our senior VE folks and a fire extinguisher servicing company last fall, and summarized below is what I was told

For Recreational boats (no passengers for hire)

1) All extinguishers on boats must be USCG approved and rated (read the fine print if you are in the kitchen section of WalMart etc. ) and they must be mounted in the proper approved bracket.

2) Dry chem don't need to be inspected by a service agent annually (but should be checked by the boater a few times a season to make sure the gauge is in the green)

3) Liquid extinguishers such as Halon, Halotron, CO2 etc. must be serviced annually by an approved agent - the annual requirement for liquid extinguishers is because the liquid agent can leak out but the pressure can stay in the green (this happened to one of my Halon extinguishers that I had at home and did not service for several years, it was down a few ounces of liquid) - so the liquid extinguishers are weighed to make sure the proper amount of agent is still inside.

4) also the shells need to be hydrostatic tested periodically (I think it can vary from state to state - and is I think 5 years in Washington state)

For my boat I bought larger dry chem extinguishers than required and they are refillable, after 12 years two hydrostatic tests and several standard service checks (I take them in every couple of years (yes I grump a bit about the cost) and they are still in good shape.
08-20-2014 08:15 PM
hellosailor
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

Med-
"...we boaters ARE all supposed to get our extinguishers all inspected and tagged ... that's what the survey says no?"
No, that isn't what the survey says.

"...IAW NFPA 302. **, ABYC A-4 AP 6.3 ..."
That means the surveyor thinks you must be in accord with the National Fire Prevention Association 302, which is a private industrial standard, not a law or a regulation. And the ABYC A-4 AP 6.3, which is another private recommendation, not a law or regulation, which we civilians can't even READ because the ABYC makes their money by selling their standards books. No peeking without paying.

So your surveyor is saying there are some highly regarded PRIVATE recommendations to spend money on tradesmen every year. Whooppeee! Can we say, "Not objective, has conflict of interest" there?

On the other hand, a company like Kidde, with big deep pockets and their name in flashing lights, would be in for a million dollar verdict in a lawsuit if the extinguishers they warranteed as good for six years without any attention, actually failed because of that. Wouldn't they?

One company (others too, I'm sure) is putting their money where their mouth is. The other? Yeah, right, they want you to spend money on the people who buy their books. Need it or not.

Call me a cynic, but if your surveyor had bother to use ENGLISH instead of JARGON, there'd be no confusion.

One of the mandates of the National Incident Management System, the umbrella for all FEMA/DHS disaster operations in the US, is "NEVER USE JARGON" because all it does is create confusion. Psychiatrists will tell you that jargon is designed to keep "them" ignorant and unable to understand "us". There's no excuse for it from a surveyor.

Tell him to rewrite the survey, and if he wants to include references to PRIVATE RECOMMENDATIONS for upkeep, to include those recommendations verbatim and complete. And to disclose any conflict of interests he may have, i.e. he has probably FUNDED the ABYC by buying their standards books. Or else he doesn't know what that standard reads, does he? Hmmmm.....

How does one say, "FUD!"

On Madison Avenue the MBAs used to say "Don't ---- on my head and tell me it is raining."
08-20-2014 06:04 PM
Minnewaska
Re: Inspecting fire extinguishers

I thought someone pointed out that the referenced code did not apply to recreational boats?
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