Wednesday, May 14

Fire Safety, By Phil Pollard

Fire Safety

At Approved Marine in Freeport, two employees were removing a fuel tank when it ignited and engulfed the boat in flames. The fire department was immediately called and responded in 15 minutes. By the time firefighters arrived, seven boats were completely engulfed. The two employees were critically injured and by the time the fire was extinguished fourteen boats were destroyed and a half dozen others sustained serious damage. Fire safety is a constant concern for boat yards.
Once ignited, fiberglass boats burn quickly, producing noxious smoke and extreme heat. Fires can spread quickly and are difficult to extinguish. Fires have led to the demise of many a boatyard. At Crowley’s we work hard to reduce the risk of fires. All of our employees are trained in practices designed to reduce the risk of fire. For example, we utilize fireproof cabinets to store paints and solvents in the fiberglass shop.

Fire Proof Solvent Cabinets
The trash cans in all of our shops are emptied at the end of the day and solvent soaked rags are discarded in specially designed cans. Power cords are unplugged when not in use and space heaters are only utilized when an employee is present. Annual audits by our insurers provide an independent eye to inspect for fire hazards and recommend best practices.

Flammable Gas Storage Cages
We have worked with the Chicago Fire Department to develop a rapid response plan. The local fire house is located just a few blocks away on 93rd street and can respond to a call in minutes. The firefighters from this house have inspected the facility and have conducted training exercises at the yard. The north yard is equipped with a dry hydrant that a pumper truck can use to draw water from the river and provide extra fire fighting capacity.
If a fire does start we have the equipment and training to respond to it quickly. We have over 100 fire extinguishers deployed on the property. They are inspected and serviced monthly.

You may have noticed the aluminum caps on the trash cans in the storage buildings. These specially designed covers funnel smoke from a smoldering fire back into the can, starving the fire for oxygen and preventing a rapid ignition.

Fire Suppression Trash Can Lids
The latest addition to our fire safety arsenal is our fire response cart. It is equipped with a large capacity foam fire extinguishing system, multiple specialized fire extinguishers, ladders, hoses and a Stat-X fire suppression canister. It is parked just next to the service office and can quickly respond to an emergency. The Stat-X is a grenade-like device that is designed for confined space fires and works by breaking the chemical bond required to sustain a fire.
Fire Cart

Fire safety is up to all of us. Please do what you can to make the yard a safer place for you and your boat.

·         Use only grounded extension cords in good condition.
·         Do not leave your boat plugged in when you are not on board.
·         Close and safely store all solvents, and paints.
·         Do not throw solvent soaked rags in the trash. Drape them over your cradle to dry before you dispose of them.
·         Avoid using a space heater.  If you must, do not leave it unattended. 

If a fire starts:

·         Protect Your Safety. Get a safe distance away and warn any other boat owners in the area.
·         Call 911 Immediately.
·         Report the Correct Address. The fire department must respond to the address that was called in. If you are on the south side of 95th Street, the address is 3421 East 95th Street. If you are on the north side of 95th Street, the address is 3434 East 95th Street.
·         Report the Fire to the Main Office .

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