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Fire Safety.

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
When we originally purchased Dana (30 years ago next month) she had a Halon fire suppressant system installed in the engine compartment. Years later when Halon was outlawed, existing systems were allowed to remain but never to be recharged after dumping. We have never had the need to use it so it still sits, armed and ready. I've always wondered if the system would still work if it was called upon. At a Safety At Sea Seminar a while ago I saw a perfect plan "B" in case the halon no longer functions. If you have a fire in the engine compartment, the worse thing you can do is to open the companionway steps to get at the fire. This just supplies the fire with much needed oxygen and makes things worse. The plan "B" is to drill a hole in the companionway just behind the fire extinguisher that hangs there. If a fire is suspected in the compartment, remove the extinguisher, pull the pin, stick the nozzle in the hole and discharge. The ABC dry chemical extinguisher is not as good as the Halon would be at suppressing the fire but it's better than opening the hatch. The photos should tell a quick and better story.
 

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hallelujah

Helene Schmidt
That's a great idea. Thanks for sharing. I have Halon, too, but didn't realize it was outlawed.

Would CO2 be better than a chemical fire extinguisher or would that be a problem for venting after the fire is out? Dry chemical extinguishers make such a mess.
 

stnick

lee nicholas
I have installed a fire port in the engine room Stairs and before last years cruise to key west I converted to Halyon. They are expensve but no mess at all. Once many boats ago I had a galley fire with a stove and the discharge of the fire extingisher was 3 Times worse than the fire. Here in Florida
I can still get Halon . Im doing what i know is safer . I used to be a Telephone man All our Central offices had a halon system . There were to many Large computers to even consider any water.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Helene

If I remember my firefighting classes correctly, the problem with CO2 to fight fires is volume. You would need a very large tank to supply the needed gas. Halon was found to be extremely dangerous to the environment and also to humans in the area when the tanks dump. People in computer facilities have died from lack of oxygen when the Halon was released. The dry chemical does a good job smothering the fire but, as you point out, is an awful mess to clean up after..

Jim
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Helene

I just was out running errands and spoke to a guy from a fire safety company. He said the replacement for Halon is called Halitron. Still used where not damaging equipment is critical. Like you say, it's very expensive. But it is available. Years ago when we installed Halon systems in computer rooms there was an alarm that would sound before the Halon dumped giving people in the room about 30 seconds to get out before the oxygen would be gone. The fire guy also said that CO2 is available in 5lb and larger bottles that are either automatic or manual for installations on boats or RVs. I might be interested in that for the engine compartment. I told him about my 30+ year old Halon bottle, he said leave it alone it probably will still work. Good to know.

Jim
 

kenk

Ken Kurlychek
We were recently told by our surveyor that we need to replace our original Sea Fire E75 Automatic Halon Suppression Extinguisher for our engine room in our Morgan 384. As you know, they no longer make these. Would this (see link below) be an appropriate substitute? Have any other owners installed one of these?
FireBoy - Xintex Automatic Fire Extinguishing System - 50 Cubic Ft
Defender link:
https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=2660869

Thanks,
Ken
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Ken

I see from the Defenders link that the specs for the Xintex system doesn't say how large an area the 50 cu ft tank will cover. Hopefully it is enough to fill the engine compartment. It also calls for a diesel engine automatic shutdown system. That system along with the Xintex adds up to 1/2 a boat unit.

Why are you thinking of replacing the Halon system?

Jim
 

kenk

Ken Kurlychek
Thanks for the reply, Jim. Our surveyor said that the 1983 vintage extinguisher should go. This is all about satisfying our insurance company. I assume that the 50 cubic foot extinguisher would cover 50 cubic feet. Or am I misunderstanding your question. From my measurements, 50 is the approximate space of the engine compartment on our boat. I'm not going to worry about the engine auto shutoff since the insurance company didn't require it.
Thanks again for your reply.
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
I have replaced all my old dry chemical extinquishers with the new clean variety. The cost of cleaning up after using dry chemical would be much more than the cost of the new variety. Plus there is a new item that might be available in the US someday: a small canister made by Maus. Finally, I have read that a good fire blanket is good for galley fires. I may get one.
 
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jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Terry
What is this "new variety"? I replaced all my extinguishers last season but the are still of the dry chemical style. Back when we had the old kerosene stove and experienced 3 separate stove fires, we purchased one of the fire blankets. It hangs just inside the bulkhead in the quarter berth. Never been used but nice to know it's there.

jim
 
Curious. No standard that I am aware of, USCG, ABYC, etc., requires a fire suppression system in the engine room on boats of our size. I can't imaging an insurance company requiring more than either of those. Extinguishers, yes, but an installed system, no. Any installed system, must be maintained and kept in working order, however.

How many people have them, and what let to their installation?

My fire blanket is hanging on the galley sink cabinet, within reach of the stove. I don't think ABYC or USCG requires them, but US Sailing racing rules do. Every boat should have one.
 

kenk

Ken Kurlychek
In our case, we had an installed system in the engine compartment that had been on the boat when we bought it 17 years ago. Our insurance company wanted a current survey. The surveyor said that we needed to update our automatic extinguisher in the engine compartment. We too have a fire blanket near the stove but that's not the issue. I was just curious if anyone had installed a FireBoy Xintex in their boat's engine compartment because we're not sure if it would fit in the same space as the old one.
 

kenk

Ken Kurlychek
Update: our new automatic fire extinguisher for the engine compartment finally arrived and while its capacity is the same as the old, obsolete Halon extinguisher, it's way to big for the space it has to be mounted. So, my question to any of the new owners (past 5 years or so) did your pre-purchase survey make note of the need for an automatic fire extinguisher in the engine compartment? (not the galley) If yes, what brand and size extinguisher do you have or did you install?
Thanks,
Ken
 
2 1/2 years ago. My insurance only asked and suggested we have a system. (I have plenty of fire extinguishers too.) Automatic system was not required for Sonata.
Mitchell
 
I did a bit of research. An approved fixed system is optional, but reduces the number of portable extinguishers you need to carry. Vessels 26'-40' with no fixed system are required to carry qty(2) type B-I extinguishers, or one type B-II. If a fixed system is installed, then only one type B-I extinguisher is required.

ABYC recommendations are tougher to find. I've only read notes that they are more current and require type ABC and not just type B, and one reference that boats 26-4- feet required 3, not 2, extinguishers. But I didn't find anything authoritative. A rather hate ABYC for how secret they keep their standards.

Source : 420.PDF (uscgboating.org) page 21-23.
 
Safety Equipment: Fire Extinguishers 3.4 A boat shall carry fire extinguisher(s) that meets U.S. Coast Guard or applicable government requirements, when applicable.

I have 2 type B-1 on board.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
I agree with Warren about the secrecy of the ABYC. It's like they get together to make some rules, then hide them so no one can use them. For fire extinguishers on board Dana, in addition to the obsolete Halon system in the engine compartment, we carry four Kidde dry chemical, classification 1-A:10-B:C extinguishers on board. One hung in the V-bunk to have handy if a fire starts while we are asleep. One in the middle of the boat at the settee. One at the companionway steps close to the engine and the galley. One in the locker behind the helm to have handy if we are underway. There is also a fire blanket which hangs just inside the quarter berth on the engine room bulkhead. I am not happy using dry chemical units after having to spend a couple of weeks cleaning up after using one in an oven fire years ago, but that basically is what is available.

Jim
 
Thanks Warren and Jim,
Sonata was equipped and did a couple Pac Cups and return passages before we got her.
I wondered, because we have three decent size ext. on board and a fire blanket. Two were on the companionway/stair hatch. Also the PO had drilled a hole at the top right thru to the engine bay to flood the engine in case of fire, Halon. "Shoot it into..."
I moved one to inside the Port cockpit locker. The third is forward in the hanging locker.

On my Land Speed race car there are two 10# bottles (required). One plumbed to the engine and one on the Driver/ cockpit. Manual activation. AFFF type suppressant.
I have thought of a similar system for the boat. Tho automatic. I had a bottle go off on the race car and the amount of spread and coverage of the AFFF is very impressive. And, no Halon or dry chemical issues or mess. It looks like soapy water. And cleans just as easy. These bottles can be mounted in just about any orientation, and may be able to fit in spaces not otherwise used on the boat.
Just some thoughts, fire isn't something to take lightly, especially when away and on our own.
Mitchell
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Mitchell

What is AFFF? I never heard of it. If it will do the job without the horrible cleanup of dry chemical, I'm interested.

Jim
 

Ernest Ashley

New Member
OK. Now you are talking my line of work. AFFF ("A triple F" or aqueous fire fighting foam) is comprised of per and poly fluorinated alkyl substances (aka PFAS) that I hope you have been reading about in the news papers as "toxic, forever chemicals. They are incredibly effective for fuel fires because they form foam and smother the fire. However we as a society are now concerned with parts per trillion levels of these compound in our drinking waters, they don't degrade because of the strength of the carbon/fluorine bond and they bioaccumulate in things like fish (and us). I expect that would be enough to dissuade a sailor from using them. Regarding my recent survey, I was instructed to install a port through which I could fire an extinguisher without opening the engine compartment.
 
An engine fire from a diesel engine is unlikely. Neither the coast guard or ABYC even requires an engine blower for a diesel. However, I do think the engine compartment is supposed to be air tight from the passenger areas, to prevent CO poisoning from exhaust leaks. The concern should be electrical fires, kitchen fires, and cooking fuel (propane or alcohol). A fire extinguisher port into the battery compartment would probably be a better idea than the engine room, especially considering how much work it takes to open it. Although by the time you knew there was a fire there it might be time to abandon. The port would provide ventilation (which is required of batteries), and also might give early notice of problems in there. The companion way can be cracked open easily, and the electrical panel also opens easily.

The Pacific Cup requires a fire blanket that can be reached while cooking. It is meant for cooking fires. Mine hangs on the cabinet below the sink. The cheap case it is in won't stay closed and it keeps falling on the floor.

Powder has the advantage of being ABC, whereas other extinguishers are more applicable to a specific class of fire, for example, only liquids, or only electrical.
 
I agree Warren,
Our engines aren't very likely to catch on fire. I am really not to concerned there either. Like I mentioned, we also have a port in the stair bulkhead to flood the compartment. All I can think of is an oil leak and grim covered engine may be a problem. But if the insurance companies are beginning to require fire systems, that's another can of worms.
We should be more concerned and ready for fires in other parts of our boats. Galley is obviously the most likely area indeed.
Yes, AFFF is becoming a bit of an issue from what I have seen on the internet. I spoke with my supplier today for the systems we use on the race cars. Mainly to verify it is AFFF. He supplies to NASCAR and Drag racing as well as Bonneville racing. He also said he is getting requests now from boat manufacturers and the whole industry. Although there are toxicity issues, I think it's still one of the most viable and effective suppression systems. And it isn't toxic until you let it go.
Mitchell
 
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