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....I do a charity bike trip for MS and the night before the trip several hundred of us sleep in a gymnasium. There’s a table with a hundred phones & garmins charging, as well as many more multiple outlet strips around the gym.
A significant difference would be the grade of commercial wiring in a gymnasium, which would be superior to your home, let alone any small boat's wiring.

On our boat, we have household sized wiring for the 110v outlets. However, we most often charge our devices from adapter plugged into 12v DC cig lighter receptacles, for which the wiring is substantially lighter. Although, I think the real villain is the poor connection at the receptacle and the loose fit of the adapter. At some point, I can see these being banned and I'm thinking I should make a project to fully replace these with hard wired USB receptacles.

That’s why I was wondering about stats on consumer device lithium batteries. With the exception of those Samsung phones, if they were really bursting into flames that often every resort hotel in the country would have burned to the ground.
I'm sure there have been hotel fires, just not very many of them. There haven't been very many boat fires caused by them either. The rules are not written to bring risk down to zero, as some might argue they should be. Nevertheless, events like this help us improve these odds more, even if they can't attain perfection.

I don’t know the stats, but like I said earlier I am be more worried about cheap outlet strips and crappy cigarette lighter plug adapters that I am about the devices themselves.
Totally agree.
 

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....It will be interesting to see how lithium battery chemistry works in house banks for boats. I'm not sure I would be willing to have them on my boat. Do the manufacturers make any warnings about venting or other cooling requirements to safely use them in a house bank arrangement?
The LiFEPo chemistry that is now being used in marine house banks is very different from the L-ion used in small rechargeable consumer devices.

With faulty charging, you can ignite any form of battery or wiring, which is why the number one cause of boat fires is already caused by electrical sources, even without lithium.

This new lithium battery technology is installed with battery management systems that cut out the input or output from the house bank, if charging, state of charge or other parameters are exceeded. One might make the argument that they are safer than the random internal cell short that could occur on any lead acid battery chemistry we're more accustom to today.
 

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.....I think I'll go with photoelectric, since the vast majority of boat fires seem to start as slow smoldering (electrical insulation, etc.). Also, it seems like most of the photoelectric types are spec'ed to operate up to 95% RH, while the ionization types are only up to 80% RH.......
This is a perfect example of the problem. I believe I'm more informed than average, only because I'm more immersed than the average boater. I'm not smarter or more professional, I just don't think most boaters spend the kind of time that I (or perhaps most that would be engaged in a forum at all) do on marine topics.

I put smoke detectors in my boat and had no idea of this difference. Paid no attention and none was every brought to my attention.

Folks who are active in ABYC always seem offended by this next point. There should be a free published set of guidelines for boaters to follow. It can easily be funded by grants, for which I can name several ways to accomplish. They are the only broad safety focused organization, but are focused on the contractor, not the boater.

edit..... sure enough, the version I put in my Amazon cart (to add sensors to every cabin) were all ionization type and the photoelectric are more expensive. However, I'm now reading that ionization technology may detect a fire sooner. Head spins..... again.
 

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edit..... sure enough, the version I put in my Amazon cart (to add sensors to every cabin) were all ionization type and the photoelectric are more expensive. However, I'm now reading that ionization technology may detect a fire sooner. Head spins..... again.
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that you install 1.) both types of smoke detectors or 2.) dual detectors.

This recommendation relates to houses rather than boats, though.

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/about/smoke_alarms_position.html
 

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Of course. Dual type. Head slap.

Even more expensive, but I'll try to find a battery powered version. This would be an excellent example of where most of the public would just choose the cheapest, having no idea.

Expiration dates should be on the outside too, not on a label underneath. I may just add them with clear tape label maker. No way I'd remember.

There are only a few things that worry me on a boat. Fire, water on the inside and falling off. The worst of everything else is just uncomfortable.
 

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So how could everyone on the boat have slept through smoke detectors going off? 34 were below deck but 5 were above.

There should have been multiple detectors. Someone’s head would have been within a couple of feet a detector.

Maybe it’s bad or incomplete reporting, far too common, but no one mentions hearing a detector. The Watchman reports been waken by a “thud” or some such noise only to find the galley/saloon in flames. No detectors in galley? He could not hear them? Incredulous.

I once had reasons to look into it, an alarm needs to be so many dB above ambient noise. So even a noisy generator should have not masked the sound. But that’s not likely mandated, but should be. Although I doubt that’s relevant here.

Something here is very wrong.
 

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A few lessons here.

Hard wired USB is a great idea. We have several on board. I don't believe the devices draw much when recharged this way. Cig plug outlets are old technology they need to be abandoned!

Fire sprinklers in commercial vessels in any location which has flammables such as propane or fuel.

Fume and smoke detectors need to have VERY loud signals audible from anywhere in the ship. They might consider having them send a USCG distress call as well. Residential alarms can call the fire department.

Wiring needs to be inspected and renewed as necessary. Old wiring and corroded connections are a recipe for disaster. Oversized wire gauge is a good idea!

No smoking except in designated open areas down wind side if vessel.
 

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So how could everyone on the boat have slept through smoke detectors going off? 34 were below deck but 5 were above.

There should have been multiple detectors. Someone’s head would have been within a couple of feet a detector.

Maybe it’s bad or incomplete reporting, far too common, but no one mentions hearing a detector. The Watchman reports been waken by a “thud” or some such noise only to find the galley/saloon in flames. No detectors in galley? He could not hear them? Incredulous.

I once had reasons to look into it, an alarm needs to be so many dB above ambient noise. So even a noisy generator should have not masked the sound. But that’s not likely mandated, but should be. Although I doubt that’s relevant here.

Something here is very wrong.
Something definitely doesn't add up. The NTSB report says there were two in the passenger quarters. No idea if there were any in the galley, but you'd think there would be one nearby. Perhaps a direct detector near a stove is not spec'd if it would just false alarm all the time. Dunno.

The NTSB report says the crew member was awakened by a sound and does not clarify it further. News reports have embellished the description more. They reported this before the report came out.

Perhaps an explosion disabled the detector. The fire sounds as if it was violent enough that a detector would have been consumed itself, but should have sounded first. The smoke obviously made it to the passenger quarters, as that's the cause of death. Is it possible, among all the adrenaline, the survivors just didn't hear them? Maybe a human pilfered the batteries in both detectors we know existed.

What are the requirements for smoke detector on small passenger vessels, other than the sleeping quarters.
 

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A few lessons here.

Hard wired USB is a great idea. We have several on board. I don't believe the devices draw much when recharged this way. Cig plug outlets are old technology they need to be abandoned!

Fire sprinklers in commercial vessels in any location which has flammables such as propane or fuel.

Fume and smoke detectors need to have VERY loud signals audible from anywhere in the ship. They might consider having them send a USCG distress call as well. Residential alarms can call the fire department.

Wiring needs to be inspected and renewed as necessary. Old wiring and corroded connections are a recipe for disaster. Oversized wire gauge is a good idea!

No smoking except in designated open areas down wind side if vessel.
I ask because I really don't know, chargers are different by device, my new phone would use a different transformer for instance for charge rate. How does the USB handle the different charge rates that the different adapters provide.
 

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I ask because I really don't know, chargers are different by device, my new phone would use a different transformer for instance for charge rate. How does the USB handle the different charge rates that the different adapters provide.
I am by no means an expert. Electrical devices which work from line voltage will "step down" the voltage and turn AC into DC. The bricks for laptops are these transformers and the output is typically 19v. Monitors typically use 19v DC. The little block you use for a smart device will have the output voltage and current on it. I am guessing but they output close to 12v... and so you can use a cig outlet or a installed USB outlet... or some charging station with multiple USBs which is now the standard will have higher capacity transformers than one for a single device.

Over heating... may not result in fire.... it can
 

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My understanding of li is that it's the battery that can get hot while charging. I imagine counter space at a premium and a pile of phones neatly stacked ,unable to dump heat . Then maybe a pillow or shirt is tossed over. Nothing amiss until it all goes whump at once. Years ago I noticed some smoke coming from the boat alongside .Owners had minutes before tied up and walked up to the store. I jumped aboard ,opened the wheelhouse door just as the entire vessel was ablaze .Just an overheated gearbox but the very air burned. Another time ,coiled up extension cord on a bunk. Owner tossed his dry suit on top .Melted thru both foam mattress and suit but noticed the smell before it ignited. . Today many hard wired alarms require sine wave 110. They go puff running off the older inverter.
 

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So how could everyone on the boat have slept through smoke detectors going off? 34 were below deck but 5 were above.

There should have been multiple detectors. Someone’s head would have been within a couple of feet a detector.

Maybe it’s bad or incomplete reporting, far too common, but no one mentions hearing a detector. The Watchman reports been waken by a “thud” or some such noise only to find the galley/saloon in flames. No detectors in galley? He could not hear them? Incredulous.

I once had reasons to look into it, an alarm needs to be so many dB above ambient noise. So even a noisy generator should have not masked the sound. But that’s not likely mandated, but should be. Although I doubt that’s relevant here.

Something here is very wrong.
Maybe the detector went off too late, or didn't go off at all.

This link is the opinion of one home inspector, but it is food for thought, especially since the ionization detectors have virtually taken over the market. I think I'm going to put photoelectric detectors in my boat:

Photoelectric vs Ionization Smoke Alarms - Deadly Differences

...In tests, ionization alarms will typically respond about 30 to 90 seconds faster to “fast-flame” fires than photoelectric smoke alarms. However, in smoldering fires ionization alarms respond an average of 15 to 50 minutes slower than photoelectric alarms. Several studies indicate that they will outright fail to activate up to 20-25% of the time. The vast majority of residential fire fatalities are due to smoke inhalation, not from the actual flames and almost two-thirds of fire fatalities occur at night while we sleep.

In 1995, researchers at Texas A&M University published the results is a 2 1/2 year study on residential fire detection devices. The research showed that ionization alarms failed to provide adequate egress time in smoldering fire scenarios over 55% of the time versus a 4% failure rate with photoelectric alarms. In fast-flame fire scenarios, the study found that ionization alarms failed to provide adequate egress time about 20% of the time versus 4% with photoelectric alarms. The research demonstrates that when all factors are taken into account, i.e.; how often each alarm gets disabled due to nuisance tripping, how they respond across the full spectrum of fires, etc., photoelectric alarms have a clear advantage.


In 2007, UL published the “Smoke Characterization Study”. This study tested both types of smoke alarms using current UL testing standards and materials; they also tested the alarms using UL test criteria integrating a variety of synthetic materials and current tests such as smoldering toast. The results are frightening. Ionization alarms failed the UL 217 test 20% of the time using the current standard test materials. This is the test that the alarms must pass 100% of the time to be offered for sale and installed in US homes. When tested using synthetic materials, ionization alarms DID NOT TRIGGER (DNT) in 7 out of 8 synthetic test scenarios. In the one test where the ionization alarm did trigger, it activated at a level exceeding maximum allowed under the UL standard and nearly 43 minutes after the photoelectric alarm in the same test.

In the same tests, photoelectric alarms activated 100% of the time using the UL 217 test and materials. When tested using the standard test integrated synthetic materials, photoelectric alarms responded properly in 100% of the tests. Overall, the ionization alarm outperformed the photoelectric in only one scenario, the “burnt toast” test, where it responded 22% faster. There were 3 test scenarios where neither alarm activated. The UL researchers determined that the sample size used was too small to generate sufficient smoke. Those materials were re-tested using larger samples. The results of those tests are shown in the above test scenarios.

Ionization alarms are also notorious for nuisance tripping, i.e.; going off when you cook, burn toast, shower, etc. When alarms nuisance trip, people become frustrated and intentionally disable the alarms. This leaves the family completely unprotected. According to several studies, ionization alarms are 8 times more likely to be intentionally disabled. Ionization alarms account for the vast majority of disabled alarms. Several CPSC and NFPA studies indicate that ionization alarms account for 97% of all nuisance alarm activations. An Alaskan Public Housing Study shows that about 20% of ionization alarms will be disabled within the first year of installation; other studies indicate that this percentage may be higher...
This guy also makes a strong case against use of dual sensor alarms:

What about Combination Alarms?

There are combination photoelectric/ionization smoke alarms available. In fact, many fire officials mistakenly recommend them. There is no industry or UL standard for dual/multi sensor alarms. As long as they respond to the UL 217 and 268 tests, the manufacturers are free to alter the way the sensors respond and interact with each other. These units have the same issues as ionization only detectors. In some cases – they may be worse. A CPSC study shows that they may be even more prone to nuisance tripping than ionization alarms when in close proximity to cooking sources.

In the simplest terms, if you take a device that works and pair it with a device that has serious shortcomings – how can that possibly improve performance? Both the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and CREIA specifically recommend against installing combination alarms. NIST is on record stating, ”Since an individual sensor can be set to meet all current sensitivity standards, it is not obvious what overall benefit is achieved from a dual alarm...”

Combination alarms use technology termed “Gated Logic”. In one type, either sensor tripping will sound the alarm. In these units, the photo portion will pick up the smoldering fires so the ionization sensor does not become a factor. However, the ion portion is still susceptible to nuisance tripping. The manufacturers do not want the customer to disable the alarm. So to combat nuisance tripping, they often reduce (desensitize) the smoke sensitivity/response of ionization portion of these units. In effect, this type of combination alarm performs similarly to a photoelectric only alarm.

With the other type of unit, BOTH sensors must trigger to sound the alarm. In these units, the photoelectric portion will pick up the smoldering fires first, but will not sound until the ionization sensor triggers. Since a smoldering fire usually pose the greatest danger, this is a problem. The family is often fast asleep while the alarm waits for the ionization sensor that may never respond or responds too slow. This type alarm needs both sensors to detect the danger or it won’t alert. Conversely, while this unit will be less susceptible to nuisance tripping because the photoelectric sensor must also respond to nuisance sources such as burnt toast; you risk losing your life if the ionization doesn’t respond in a dangerous smoldering fire situation.
 

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So now that many have gone down the rabbit hole convinced it was a blob of lithium batteries which caused this has anyone really looked into other possible causes.

Has anyone ESTABLISHED this was the cause of the ignition?

Understand I am not saying this was not the cause, but a “rush to judgement “ often blinds people to overlook other pertinent facts

This was so tragic. No escape routes. My hearts out to the victims and families.
 

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Maybe the detector went off too late, or didn't go off at all.

This link is the opinion of one home inspector, but it is food for thought, especially since the ionization detectors have virtually taken over the market due to the fact that they are cheap. I think I'm going to put photoelectric detectors in my boat:

Photoelectric vs Ionization Smoke Alarms - Deadly Differences



This guy also makes a strong case against use of dual sensor alarms:
Then put 2 separate alarms if you don't like dual.

I haven't spent a lot of time researching, but the research that is quoted is from 2007 and 1995, and I believe the article was from 2012. Things change. Nuisance alarms are fine with me.
 

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So now that many have gone down the rabbit hole convinced it was a blob of lithium batteries which caused this has anyone really looked into other possible causes.

Has anyone ESTABLISHED this was the cause of the ignition?

Understand I am not saying this was not the cause, but a “rush to judgement “ often blinds people to overlook other pertinent facts

This was so tragic. No escape routes. My hearts out to the victims and families.
You are absolutely correct about not rushing to judgement. But I think relative to us commenting here, we are just trying to get take aways that we can apply to make ourselves safer.
 

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I think the relevant learning here is that our recreational vessels simply have too little fire detection. It doesn’t matter one bit, if that was the problem with Conception.

While it stirs up some emotion, I think because no recreational vessel seems to stand night watch, it only makes sense to provide technology. I still don’t fully follow why we think passengers on a commercial vessel are more important than those on a recreational one, to warrant someone staying up all night. I’m beginning to think the night watch just isn’t a very effective tool in the first place. It would be, if it happened to be on exact location of a smoldering fire, but I think good tech is far more likely to work than a randomly roving human on any ship with three decks or multiple rooms.
 

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Then put 2 separate alarms if you don't like dual.

I haven't spent a lot of time researching, but the research that is quoted is from 2007 and 1995, and I believe the article was from 2012. Things change. Nuisance alarms are fine with me.
The link I posted explained why two alarms can actually be worse for false alarms. And with the dual detector you don't really know what you're getting because of the different kinds of gate logic that can be used.

Have you ever suffered a nuisance alarm in the middle of the night? It can be quite dangerous. Whole family/crew has to evacuate without being dressed (perhaps without PFDs), potential permanent hearing loss when you're forced to get an arm's length away from a detector, inability to diagnose which detector is bad if they're interconnected (generally in a home), possible electrocution if you accidentally pull the 120v harness apart while disconnecting it without first shutting off the circuit breaker, falling off the ladder when accessing it on a high ceiling, especially if you get shocked. For boats, add to that the danger of tripping or falling overboard when evacuating when you're half asleep.

Look at some Amazon reviews to get an idea how dangerous false alarms can be. It's eye-opening.

I realize that things can change. If anyone has more current information, let us know. I'm not sure that smoke detectors are changing all that fast. Certainly the Amazon reviews show that there's a lot of room for improvement, especially with false alarms. After reading a bit, I'm not confident that there is a technology suitable for the marine environment that won't generate severe false alarms due to thermal cycling and moisture. Purely speculative here, but maybe that's why there is still no requirement for uninspected recreational vessels to have smoke detectors.

FYI, I just found a mountain of complaints over false alarms for the photoelectric alarm that I was about to purchase. So the search continues...

EDIT: For those of you who have smoke detectors on your boats, what brand/model do you have, and what experience do you have with false alarms?
 

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I still don’t fully follow why we think passengers on a commercial vessel are more important than those on a recreational one, to warrant someone staying up all night. I’m beginning to think the night watch just isn’t a very effective tool in the first place. It would be, if it happened to be on exact location of a smoldering fire, but I think good tech is far more likely to work than a randomly roving human on any ship with three decks or multiple rooms.
I don't think it follows that commercial passenger lives are more important than recreational passenger lives just because the regulations impacting the classes are different. We routinely impose greater restrictions and more responsibility on those who take fees to take charge of lives. Commercial buildings require sprinkler systems, private homes do not; CDL requirements are more stringent than regular driver's licenses; Captains who take guests for pay must undergo rigorous training and have documented experiences before getting their licenses, us regular joes have comparatively easy testing.

But I agree completely with you that the night watch isn't a very effective tool. As a practical matter, the watchman is probably going to sit in one place most of the time. Chances are, whatever caused that fire would be more quickly discovered by a device that is always there and always on.

And even that is no guarantee of safety. Just look at what happened at Notre-Dame in Paris. Confusion on the part of a watchman and his supervisor, and a failure of the technology to overcome human frailty lead to that disaster.
 

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I have 3 means of egress on my little 34. The Companionway, and two hatches. One in Salon and one in the V-Berth.

If, I'm not mistaken and I read all the information correctly, these 34 passengers had one means of egress from the sleeping quarters in the event the main exit was blocked. That, from above a bunk? Certainly, Detection is essential, but once detected so is a means of escape. I can't imagine 34 people trying to get through one hatch in a life threatening emergency. And, where would they have gone, if the fire was above them? Impossible situation.
 

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....We routinely impose greater restrictions and more responsibility on those who take fees to take charge of lives. .......
You’re right, we routinely do. The issue is why we don’t volunteer to provide the same level of life security to a half dozen guests aboard a recreational vessel, if it’s so important or effective.

There might be a point in which the barrier to egress increases, such as getting 34 people up one set of stairs, or hundreds of people out of a tall building, that suggest these should have more than just detection technology. Are any commercial building required to have human assets on watch? However, as we’ve demonstrated above, it’s very common for recreational sailboats to have at least one stateroom, with no alternate form of egress and those staterooms are arguably even riskier than the lower bunk room of Conception (my own included).
 
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