Tuesday, March 17

CROWLEY'S TIP #17: Get the right fire protection 411 for your boat from Crowley's own safety expert Rich Goodson

On your boat, fire protection isn’t something you think about every day but when you need it, you need it. While you’re prepping everything else this spring, check your fire protection. We provide a quick and dirty guide below.

Do You Need a Fire Extinguisher?
You do if you have an inboard engine, installed fuel tanks and/or closed living or storage compartments. Basically, if you’re reading this, you need a fire extinguisher.

How Many Do You Need?

Table source: http://www.uscgboating.org/SAFETY/fedreqs/equ_fire.htm

What Extinguishers are USCG Approved?
Extinguishers are classified by a letter and number symbol. The letter indicates the type of fire the unit is designed to extinguish. The number indicates the relative size of the extinguisher - the higher the number, the larger the extinguisher.

Coast Guard approved extinguishers required for boats are hand portable, either B-I or B-II classification and have a specific marine type mounting bracket. It is recommended the extinguishers be mounted in a readily accessible position, away from the areas where a fire could likely start such as the galley or the engine compartment.

Table source: http://www.uscgboating.org/SAFETY/fedreqs/equ_fire.htm

Extinguisher markings can be confusing because extinguishers may have multiple marking systems and can be approved for several different types of hazards. For instance, an extinguisher marked:

Look for the part of the label that says "Marine Type USCG"
 Make sure Type B is indicated
 Portable extinguishers will be either size I or II. Size III and larger are too big for use on most recreational boats.

What Maintenance is Required?
Inspect extinguishers monthly to make sure that:
 Seals and tamper indicators are not broken or missing.
 Pressure gauges or indicators read in the operable range. (Note: CO2 extinguishers do not have gauges.)
 There is no obvious physical damage, rust, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles.
 Weigh extinguishers annually to assure that the minimum weight is as stated on the extinguisher label.

Fire extinguishers that do not satisfy the above requirements or that have been partially emptied must be replaced or taken to a qualified fire extinguisher servicing company for recharge.

How Do You Stay Compliant?
Coast Guard approved extinguishers usually require that the portable extinguisher be mounted in the bracket included with the extinguisher and properly installed. Internal inspection for USCG approved fire extinguishers is every 5-6 years. If you’re using less expensive or smaller fire extinguishers, it’s not cost effective to have the six-year servicing done. The most affordable way to satisfy this requirement is to keep a more inexpensive brand of extinguisher on the boat. These are usually those with the plastic tops as opposed to the metal tops. When six years is up, send the old extinguisher to your kitchen or garage and buy a new one for the boat.

No comments: