Boat Doc Spe­cials

Does your boat need a fixed fire-ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tem?

Boating - - CONTENTS - —Lenny Ru­dow

Ac­cord­ing to both the U.S. Coast Guard and in­surance-com­pany claim statis­tics, a huge pro­por­tion of boat fires start in the en­gine space.

Elec­tri­cal sys­tems and bat­ter­ies are re­spon­si­ble for trig­ger­ing 52 per­cent of those blazes, fuel sys­tems get 5 per­cent of the blame, and flammable items com­ing into con­tact with an over­heated ex­haust sys­tem ac­counts for an­other 20 per­cent. That means Class A fires (com­bustible ma­te­ri­als that leave ash), Class B fires (flammable liq­uids) and Class C fires (elec­tri­cal) are all pos­si­bil­i­ties in the en­gine room. The net re­sult? Boats with en­gine rooms need a fixed, au­to­matic fire-ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tem that can han­dle all three.


The vol­ume of your en­gine room or en­gine com­part­ment is what de­ter­mines the size of the sys­tem you need. “Get more than the min­i­mum, be­cause the min­i­mum is of­ten not enough and more is al­ways bet­ter,” says Bob Da­ley, a 26-year vet­eran cap­tain (re­tired) of the Mont­gomery County Fire Res­cue. Da­ley’s own boat is equipped with three times the re­quired extinguishers.

To fig­ure out what size sys­tem you need, mea­sure the length, width and height of your en­gine room and cal­cu­late the cu­bic feet. Fixed sys­tems are rated by cu­bic feet of cov­er­age.


Fixed ma­rine fire-ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tems com­monly con­tain HFC-227 or FM-200 fire sup­pres­sants, which are less en­vi­ron­men­tally harm­ful re­place­ments for old-school Halon (which is no longer sold). A newer

op­tion is Novec 1230, a 3M prod­uct claimed to be even less im­pact­ful on the en­vi­ron­ment, which is stored in liq­uid form but dis­charged as a gas. All of these op­tions are con­sid­ered equally ef­fec­tive at squelch­ing flames.

These sys­tems trig­ger au­to­mat­i­cally via a tem­per­a­ture sen­sor, and many can also be trig­gered with a man­ual re­lease. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, how­ever, that if a fixed sys­tem trig­gers while un­der­way, you need to re­act quickly to shut off engines, blow­ers, gen­er­a­tors and other equip­ment, or they may need fresh oxy­gen to restart while ex­pelling fire sup­pres­sant from the in­take sys­tem.


Fixed fire-ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tems are usu­ally easy to in­stall be­cause they con­sist of just a few main com­po­nents: the ex­tin­guisher cylin­der (which usu­ally in­cludes the tem­per­a­ture-sen­si­tive au­to­matic trig­ger in its noz­zle) and, when equipped with man­ual abil­i­ties, the man­ual dis­charge trig­ger and the ca­ble con­nect­ing it to the cylin­der. Here are some key in­stal­la­tion de­tails:

The noz­zle and trig­ger should be po­si­tioned as close to the over­head, cen­ter­line, and as far away as pos­si­ble from air in­take vents and blow­ers.

The cylin­der must be se­curely mounted.

En­gine, gen­er­a­tor and ven­ti­la­tion-sys­tem au­to­matic-re­lay shut­downs should be in­stalled and are nec­es­sary on diesel boats in or­der to en­sure ABYC com­pli­ance.

Fixed fire-ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tems can be fit­ted to yachts and in the en­gine space of a run­about.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.