Does your sailing crew know the location of each small portable fire extinguisher aboard? Have you trained them in the simple technique called “P.A.S.S.”? Make these five easy preparation steps today to fight any deadly marine fire that crosses your path in the future.
Mount portable fire extinguishers so that you can get to one within five seconds–no matter where you are on the boat. That’s not a lot of time. But then again, neither is 30 to 45 seconds. And that’s the amount of time that marine firefighters estimate you have to extinguish a fire before it’s out of control!
Do you know the exact location of each marine extinguisher on your boat? Does your crew? You have to know where they are in order to fight a fire. If one fails to work then what? You will need to grab another. But where are they? Follow these five simple steps:
1. Mount each extinguisher
Mount portable fire extinguishers in brackets. That’s not to say you can’t shove some in a sail locker. But these tend to get buried under marine rope, spare anchors, and other sailing gear. Loose extinguishers are not counted as required Federal equipment if you are boarded for a safety inspection.
Take care not to mount an extinguisher where it would be inaccessible in a fire. For example, you wouldn’t want to mount one behind a stove top. Flames could block your access. Mount boat galley extinguishers on the bulkhead opposite that of the cooking stove.
2. Sketch and post their locations
Grab a clipboard with a sheet of paper and pencil. Make a profile of your boat hull. Start at the bow and work your way aft. Put a circle onto the clipboard that shows the approximate extinguisher location. Neaten up your drawing. Post it in the cabin so that everyone can see it.
3. Check the charge
Look at the charge-gauge on the top of each extinguisher. If it’s not in the green (full) sector, do not trust that extinguisher. Call your local fire department to see if they recharge extinguishers. If not, they will be able to recommend someone who does. Trust only full, charged extinguishers to handle a fire emergency.
4. Give a Tour
Give a tour to anyone that sails with you. Point out the location of each extinguisher, show them your drawing, and point out how to read a charge-gauge. This will give your crew a lot of confidence to handle a fire if it occurs.
5. Demonstrate P.A.S.S.
Explain to your crew how to use the acronym “P.A.S.S.” This works with any type of common portable extinguisher.
P = Pull the pin.
The trigger has a keeper-pin (like a cotter pin) to prevent accidental discharge. Pull this out.
A = Aim at the base.
Concentrate on the materials that cause the fire. Aim at the base; not the flames.
S = Squeeze the trigger.
Use short, one second bursts. Most small extinguishers last only 20 seconds.
S = Sweep from side to side.
Make sure you extinguish any hot embers that might have fallen or blown to the side of the main fire.
As a sailing skipper, you want to do whatever necessary to protect your sailing crew and small cruising boat from the deadly effects of a marine fire. Make these preparations today to handle any fire emergency in the future in a calm, controlled, efficient manner.
Captain John Jamieson shows small boat cruising skippers how to reach their sailing dreams today! Get his popular free report “Ten Top Safety Check for Cruising Boat Skippers” at http://www.skippertips.com/public/242.cfm