PDA

View Full Version : Fire Extinguisher...when to replace?


dpolen
04-14-2011, 11:53 AM
How long can you keep a fire extinguisher around and know it will still work in the event of an emergency? My boat still has the original extinguisher in it...I know it would be easy to just buy a new one, but I honestly don't know if I need to. The gauge on my bottle says its still good, but is it safe to assume it's still good at this point? Boat is 1998...so we're talking like 13 years old now. $25 is $25...just watching my pennies. Boat is finally coming out of storage this weekend, so I want to get things ready to go for the season.

Thanks!
Doug

1redTA
04-14-2011, 11:58 AM
The powder on old extinguishers will get "packed" from sitting around too long, it is also past its hydro date. A $25 extinguisher is most likely cheaper than the deductible on your insurance

dpolen
04-14-2011, 12:55 PM
Thanks! That's kinda what I was thinking, but was hoping someone would confirm.

CantRepeat
04-14-2011, 02:18 PM
And just for kicks, you should test the old one and video it!

73blue
04-14-2011, 02:56 PM
I'm gonna be honest... my fire extinguisher is for decorative purposes only (well, and compliance) My 20 ft boat is too small to fight fires in...especially when there is a large body of water nearby, and an up-to-date insurance policy

FrankSchwab
04-14-2011, 03:01 PM
It's hard to imagine a situation where the engine's on fire and I'm going to open the rear deck (really bad idea to begin with IMHO, allowing a bunch of fresh oxygen into an enclosed, superheated space, especially when I'd be right in front of the opening), discharge my puny fire extinguisher and effectively put out the fire.

I expect it's a lot more likely that I'll pull up to someone else's burning boat, and hand them my extinguisher if they want to try, while loading their crew onto my boat.

/frank

hbomb
04-14-2011, 07:05 PM
I recall years ago a boat pulling up to a floating petrol pontoon...... had a loose fuel line and when he started it the spark caused mayhem..... people swam out out to the boat but worst thing they did was lift the engine hatch....... oxygen and fire not a good mix.... anyway, no extinguisher on borad which would have assisted most definately...........
saw 4 kids have their swim suits melt to them......... yes melt to them.........
fire was put out by people swimming out with their EXTINGUISHERS............
the last time I checked, an up to date insurance policy is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike when you are trying to put a flaming kid out!
spending $25 at walmart on a new extingusher is the best insurance......

east tx skier
04-14-2011, 07:09 PM
So should I gather from these posts that the green versus red indicators on my fire extinguishers are not an accurate assessment of its effectiveness in putting out fires? It's on its 3rd or 4th season and the needle is approaching the red. I have always checked it before we head out. If that is not a good indicator, what is a smart replacement interval?

CantRepeat
04-14-2011, 07:20 PM
So should I gather from these posts that the green versus red indicators on my fire extinguishers are not an accurate assessment of its effectiveness in putting out fires? It's on its 3rd or 4th season and the needle is approaching the red. I have always checked it before we head out. If that is not a good indicator, what is a smart replacement interval?

I know on fire extinguishers on base they have to be check and changed by dates. Not sure if the smaller boat ones have a use by date. I never look at it that close.

hbomb
04-14-2011, 08:04 PM
good practice to give the extinguisher a bit of a shake and gentle tap to "loosen" powder......
guage is only real indication and it should be past halfway on green indicating full charge
my own opinion and that only....... the price of them has fallen dramatically and I make it a second year maintenance item...... you can pick up a good extinguisher for around $25 - replace them every two years......maybe 3 years...... but anything after that I would not be reliant on

east tx skier
04-14-2011, 08:46 PM
Thanks. Will put it on my shopping list right after a new blower.

1redTA
04-14-2011, 09:29 PM
I would definately open the hatch on my engine compartment if it is smoking. These things are not close to being able to starve a fire with all the breather holes and bilge connected to the bottom of the boat and engine compartment.

I keep my extinguisher mounted between the gunnel and my seat for easy acces.

On Campbell, most of the "fires" that people call 911 for, are put out before we show up with the big red truck. Their extinguishers are sitting there for WHO knows how long and always seem to work.

hbomb
04-14-2011, 09:47 PM
10/4 that.......
I think the big thing here is to avoid a 10/45....
people unfortunately tend to ignore the little red bottle until it is too late and always tend top be a bit flippant about it.....
the bit about the hatch....... certainly open to investigate smoke source but make sure when you do you have a little more than an expired extinguisher........

dpolen
04-14-2011, 09:52 PM
Wow...my post got a few more replies than I anticipated. Looks like I wasn't the only one who was wondering how often to replace them.

Here's to a safe boating season for everyone!!! Hopefully nobody needs to use a fire extinguisher in 2011!

captain planet
04-14-2011, 09:52 PM
I would definately open the hatch on my engine compartment if it is smoking. These things are not close to being able to starve a fire with all the breather holes and bilge connected to the bottom of the boat and engine compartment.
I keep my extinguisher mounted between the gunnel and my seat for easy acces.

On Campbell, most of the "fires" that people call 911 for, are put out before we show up with the big red truck. Their extinguishers are sitting there for WHO knows how long and always seem to work.

WOW, I just thought of something....think of how fast a fire would spread in the bilge of a malibu with those vented stringers!!! :rolleyes::D

dfd22120
04-14-2011, 11:34 PM
I have been a firefighter for 15 years as well as selling and servicing fire extinguishers for about 18 years so I can finally participate in a discussion with an educated answer.

The previous posts were correct but I wanted to add a few comments:

Businesses are required to inspect their fire extinguishers monthly as well as having them serviced by an certified company annually. (This is probably overkill for a personal unit). Yearly do the following:

1. Make sure the pin seal is in place. (Nothing will make a bigger mess in your boat than the corrosive powder in the fire extinguisher if discharged on accident.)
2. Invert the extinguisher and hit it with a rubber mallet. (Do not hit it hard enough to dent it.)
3. Make sure the yellow indicator on the gauge is in the green area. (If it does not have a gauge replace the extinguisher with a non-disposable type.)
4. Read the operating instructions so you know how to use it in an emergency!!!

A previous post stated anything over 12 years old needs a hydro test so just replace it. This is partially true. A fire extinguisher also needs a 6yr inside maintenance in between the hydro test. This empties the extinguisher and makes sure the power is not campacted and the gauge still works. I would say 85-90% of gauges do not work after 6 years since they are just a spring so they need to be checked periodically.

Now for my soap box! Do not buy a $25 fire extinguisher! A good fire extinguisher will cost about $65. Anything with a plastic valve is not worth wasting your money on. You bought the best boat for a reason don't buy a fire extinguisher that will not work if you need it! And in the long run a a good quality fire extinguisher can be tested every 6 years and refilled without throwing it in the garbage. So in the long run you will save money.

So enough of my soapbox hopefully this is helpful to someone.

tex
04-15-2011, 07:29 AM
After the fire.

Doug G
04-15-2011, 07:39 AM
Yup what he just said. I will add that you will be surprised at what you will do when the time comes. You will also be surprised at what the extinguisher can or can't do depending on the size. As with everything else,experience is what you need right before you get it... so get it before you need it ... talk to your local fd and set up something to put out with that old extinguisher you are replacing.


Btw how are the extinguishers in your house and garage looking?

CantRepeat
04-15-2011, 07:58 AM
I have been a firefighter for 15 years as well as selling and servicing fire extinguishers for about 18 years so I can finally participate in a discussion with an educated answer.

The previous posts were correct but I wanted to add a few comments:

Businesses are required to inspect their fire extinguishers monthly as well as having them serviced by an certified company annually. (This is probably overkill for a personal unit). Yearly do the following:

1. Make sure the pin seal is in place. (Nothing will make a bigger mess in your boat than the corrosive powder in the fire extinguisher if discharged on accident.)
2. Invert the extinguisher and hit it with a rubber mallet. (Do not hit it hard enough to dent it.)
3. Make sure the yellow indicator on the gauge is in the green area. (If it does not have a gauge replace the extinguisher with a non-disposable type.)
4. Read the operating instructions so you know how to use it in an emergency!!!

A previous post stated anything over 12 years old needs a hydro test so just replace it. This is partially true. A fire extinguisher also needs a 6yr inside maintenance in between the hydro test. This empties the extinguisher and makes sure the power is not campacted and the gauge still works. I would say 85-90% of gauges do not work after 6 years since they are just a spring so they need to be checked periodically.

Now for my soap box! Do not buy a $25 fire extinguisher! A good fire extinguisher will cost about $65. Anything with a plastic valve is not worth wasting your money on. You bought the best boat for a reason don't buy a fire extinguisher that will not work if you need it! And in the long run a a good quality fire extinguisher can be tested every 6 years and refilled without throwing it in the garbage. So in the long run you will save money.

So enough of my soapbox hopefully this is helpful to someone.

Nice post.

Can you post a link to a good boat extinguisher? I'd spend the $65 today if I knew which one to buy.

dfd22120
04-15-2011, 12:28 PM
Here is a picture (Note the aluminum valve not plastic). Don't buy one from the hardware store or grocery store. Look in the phone book under fire extinguishers and find a fire extinguisher company in your area. Yes it will cost more but it's worth it in an emergency. Tell them it's for your boat and they will make sure it has a USCG approved bracket with it to be sure it dosent discharge accidently. They should sell you a 5lb. ABC fire extinguisher for somewhere around the $65 maybe a few more for the bracket.

thatsmrmastercraft
04-15-2011, 12:52 PM
Sounds like good advice.

sand2snow22
04-15-2011, 01:10 PM
After the fire.

My thoughts exactly 8p

tex
04-15-2011, 01:18 PM
Looks like a good fire extinguisher!

CantRepeat
04-15-2011, 01:18 PM
Here is a picture (Note the aluminum valve not plastic). Don't buy one from the hardware store or grocery store. Look in the phone book under fire extinguishers and find a fire extinguisher company in your area. Yes it will cost more but it's worth it in an emergency. Tell them it's for your boat and they will make sure it has a USCG approved bracket with it to be sure it dosent discharge accidently. They should sell you a 5lb. ABC fire extinguisher for somewhere around the $65 maybe a few more for the bracket.

Well, I'm not sure if a 5lb unit is the best size for this size of boat.

dfd22120
04-15-2011, 02:08 PM
I am not sure what size boat you are talking about but I have a '96 205 and I wouldn't go any smaller or bigger. They only come in 2 1/2, 5, 10, and 20 lb. A 10 lb. is too big unless you have a cabin cruiser and a 2 1/2 you may as well throw it at the fire for as much powder as it holds. Again this is just my opinion thought.

Kingsley X-1
04-15-2011, 05:44 PM
man i just replaced my extinguisher last week. i was going through the boat making sure that all my equipment was in good working order for the year...extinguisher was not. so me being the person that i am decided to test and see if the little indicator was right or not. i pulled the pin,squeezed the trigger and nadda. so i proceed to unscrew the top to see what was inside. Pull out snorkel and some of that power stuff got on my arm. i didnt think anything of it and about five min later HOLY CRAP my wrist was burning so bad it felt as though it had actually been burned. it is now a 10 days later and the scab is still there. all of this to say that if if burns your skin that bad i would rather through the extinguisher close to the fire and start to swim than get that stuff all over me and look as though i had actually jumped into the fire…not to mention how much of a mess it would be to clean up. I don’t think you could ever get all of that crap out of your boat.:twocents::firejump:

dfd22120
04-15-2011, 09:50 PM
Kingsley, as I said in a previous post I have been filling fire extinguishers for about 18 years. I have had the powder on my skin almost daily and have never had the reaction you are describing. Depending on if the powder was white or yellow determines what type it was. The white powder is basically baking soda and the yellow is ammonium sodium bicarbonate. I guess the ammonium could but I am no scientist. If you washed it off there is no reason that it should have burned you. I am not doubting what you said but I am thinking you may have had something else on your skin that it reacted with?

I can not deny the powder is messy but so is a burned up boat. I would rather have the insurance co. pay to have it cleaned than try to find a replacement. OH and for anyone who thinks you could just throw water on it............ not a good idea since more than likely a fire on a boat will start as an electrical or flammable liquid fire, and water is the last thing you would want to put on it.

Now there is another option you can buy a multi-purpose Halotron fire extinguisher which is a gas. After it puts the fire out it completely evaporates. Now these run about $400 but I guess if you have a $90k boat $400 is a good investment.

oldairboater
04-15-2011, 10:22 PM
Hydro on fire ext is 12 years for dry chemical. ABC rated. Your extinguisher will work if it is in good shape and you know how to use it with the pressure needle in the green. I have never seen a fire ext. fail that was in date, charged and used properly. I have seen fools put their fire extinguishers in bad places. If you can't get to it because it is hidden or where the fire is--it serves no purpose but safety inspection item that passes. For the fools that think their fire extinguishers are for decoration you will be surprised at how much fire you can put out with that extinguisher. I have seen fire put out in boats from fuel leaks and after explosions with fire extinguishers. Save your life and maybe save your boat. Being a paid firefighter shades my opinion.

73blue
04-16-2011, 07:42 AM
no message/

oldairboater
04-16-2011, 11:47 AM
I agree with you on them buying a good extinguisher. My advice is get one made entirely of metal and marine rated if you can find it. It should always have a gauge, which good fire extinguishers do. They don't have to buy the best but I personally would not recommend cheap. It is my experience that the six year test is BS. The cost of the test is usually more then the cost of a new extinguisher for most small extinguishers. I dispose of and use expired hydro dated extinguishers all the time teaching classes on proper use and technique for fire extinguishers. Another unnecessary rule wrote by the nfpa to add dollars to someones pockets. People loose respect for rule making organizations who just make rules/recommendations without using common sense and statistical data to reflect real life experiences. My advice after 22 years as a paid fireman is throw your old junky fire extinguisher in the trash after seeing how it works if it is possible where you live since you have already bought a new extinguisher. Too many people have never pulled a pin on an extinguisher and when it comes time to use one. They panic and vice grip the pin between the bottom carry handle and the top activation handle. The time to learn how to use a fire extinguisher is before you need it and not hands on during a real fire.I have been a firefighter for 15 years as well as selling and servicing fire extinguishers for about 18 years so I can finally participate in a discussion with an educated answer.

The previous posts were correct but I wanted to add a few comments:

Businesses are required to inspect their fire extinguishers monthly as well as having them serviced by an certified company annually. (This is probably overkill for a personal unit). Yearly do the following:

1. Make sure the pin seal is in place. (Nothing will make a bigger mess in your boat than the corrosive powder in the fire extinguisher if discharged on accident.)
2. Invert the extinguisher and hit it with a rubber mallet. (Do not hit it hard enough to dent it.)
3. Make sure the yellow indicator on the gauge is in the green area. (If it does not have a gauge replace the extinguisher with a non-disposable type.)
4. Read the operating instructions so you know how to use it in an emergency!!!

A previous post stated anything over 12 years old needs a hydro test so just replace it. This is partially true. A fire extinguisher also needs a 6yr inside maintenance in between the hydro test. This empties the extinguisher and makes sure the power is not campacted and the gauge still works. I would say 85-90% of gauges do not work after 6 years since they are just a spring so they need to be checked periodically.

Now for my soap box! Do not buy a $25 fire extinguisher! A good fire extinguisher will cost about $65. Anything with a plastic valve is not worth wasting your money on. You bought the best boat for a reason don't buy a fire extinguisher that will not work if you need it! And in the long run a a good quality fire extinguisher can be tested every 6 years and refilled without throwing it in the garbage. So in the long run you will save money.

So enough of my soapbox hopefully this is helpful to someone.