How to Kill a Boat Fire in Less than 30 Seconds

We hope you never have to use these tips, but we know if there’s a time when you’re faced with the need for them, you’ll be glad you’re prepared. Captain John from shares his essential tips for putting out a fire fast.

Do you have dry chemical fire extinguishers aboard? Are you prepared to replace your expensive electronics if you use one of these types of extinguishers? Learn these three alternative sailing tips and techniques from the secret files of marine firefighters.

Your main objective in any fire will be to shut off the fuel source. This feeds the fire. In a boat galley fire, turn off the main propane tank valve or alcohol burner. In an electrical fire, secure the main breaker switch. And in a fuel fire, secure the fuel shut-off valve.

Do not–under any circumstance–place yourself at risk by reaching through a flame to shut off a valve or switch!

Most boats have the common dry chemical extinguishers aboard. They are cheap, easy to use, and effective on all classes of fire.

But the extinguishing agent has the consistency of talcum powder and coats everything with a fine mist. This makes cleanup difficult and may damage your electronic equipment beyond the point of repair.

Add one or more of these backup firefighting strategies today:

1. Use CO2 in an open space

CO2 is effective on all classes of fire without the mess of dry chemical. Because it displaces oxygen, you don’t want to be inside an enclosed space where CO2 is being used.

If your electronics or galley burst into flames, make sure the hatches or ports are open. This provides ventilation and gives you an escape path if things get out of hand.

Show your sailing crew how to fight fires with P.A.S.S. Use this four step method with an extinguisher–at home, in an office, or aboard a boat–to stop deadly fires from spreading. Follow the steps described below:

Use P.A.S.S. to Fight a Fire
Acronym Action Step
P PULL the locking pin.
A AIM at the base of the flames.
S SQUEEZE the trigger.
S SWEEP from side to side.

2. Fight engine fires outside

Engine spaces are the #2 cause of cruising boat fires (boat galleys are first). Stay out of these compartments if a fire starts.

You don’t want to open the hatch because this exposes your crew and feeds oxygen to the fire. Use one of these two alternate methods:

* Fire short bursts of C02 into the engine intake vents. Take care to use one second bursts. The bottle only lasts about 30 seconds on a straight stream.

* Make a small access port in the engine-room hatch cover just large enough to insert the CO2 extinguisher horn. Insert the horn into the hole and fire the agent into the space in short bursts.

3. Smother with steam

Did you know that one drop of water, converted to steam, expands 1600 times? Use this secret to blanket a fire so that it’s unable to breathe! Make these preparation steps ahead of time:

*Drill a small hole in the engine access hatch.
*Cover it with an access cover plate.
*Fill a spray bottle with water–set it on “spray” (not straight stream).
*Fight the fire by blasting short bursts of spray through the access port.

Captain John’s Sailing Tip
Hold a five minute fire drill. Show your sailing crew the location of each extinguisher. Demonstrate how to use P.A.S.S to fight fires. Print off this article; carry it aboard.
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