Skipper’s Tip, 9/12/2011

Fire Extinguishers

Hopefully and most probably you will never have to use the fire extinguisher on board but if you do you should know how to use it.

Let’s first review regulations on size and types fire extinguishers required to be on our boats.  The Code of Federal Regulations (46 CFR 25) specifies the requirements.  In summary, the extinguishers must be USCG Approved and be labeled, “Marine Type USCG…” and be of the proper Size (I,II, or III), Type (A, B, or C) and quantity (based on length of vessel).

The sizes of the handheld extinguishers are specified by Size I, II, or III.  A size I has: 1.7 gallons of foam inside or 4 lbs. of CO2 or 2 lbs. of Dry Chemical. Size II has: 2.5 gallons of foam or 15 lbs. of CO2 or 10 lbs. of Dry Chemical.

The Type specified on the extinguisher identifies the type fire it is designed to fight.  Type A is for material that leaves an ash such as wood, paper and the like.  A B Type extinguisher is designed for liquid (oil, diesel, gasoline, galley grease).  The Type C’s are used for electrical fires.

The USCG/CFR specifies that our type vessels carry Type B.  These extinguisher can be used on A or C fires.  However, water will work best for Type A fires and if the B is used on class C (electrical) fires the electrical power to the fire should be first removed so the extinguisher will be effective. (Note:  Dry Chemical is very corrosive on electrical equipment.)

The length of the vessel determines the quantity of extinguishers required on board.  A vessel less than 26 feet is required to carry One B-I.  A vessel between 26 feet but less than 40 feet is required to carry Two B-I or one B-II.  A vessel between 40 feet to 65 is required to carry Three B-I’s or One B-II and One B-I.  If this vessel has a fixed system: Two B-I or One B-II.

The handheld fire extinguisher must have mounts but are no longer required to be mounted.

To use the extinguisher use P.A.S.S.  Pull the safety pin, Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, Squeeze the firing handle and Sweep back and to across the fire.

However, the best way to fight a fire is to prevent the fire.

Bill Yawn – Tradewinds Instructor

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