Marine Firefighting Inc.
Newsletter # 23
Deep Fryers and Vessel Fires By Tom Guldner
Origionally published on WorkBoat.com in their "Sound Off" blog Sept. 4, 2012
Many ships and workboats must support their crews for extended periods of time. In addition to providing sleeping accommodations and recreational activities, there also must be adequate cooking facilities. Bad food will make a crew unhappy.
Several crews I have had the pleasure of working with do not subscribe to the doctrine that fried food is unhealthy. Thus, you will find deep fryers in many workboat galleys. Unfortunately, the deep fryer is also the source of many injuries and fires aboard vessels.
Most vessels have fire extinguishers readily available but are they the correct type for this type of fire? First, water extinguishers should not be used since they could cause the oil fire to flare up violently. If the water is plunged below the surface it might also cause a steam explosion that can send the hot oil in all directions. This can cause burn injuries and could also spread the fire.
So, what are we going to use? Let's look at some of the basic firefighting information that we are probably all familiar with. What are the types of fire? This will also lead us to the correct type of extinguishing agent. These relate to US classification.
These are the fires that we are most familiar with in the US, but what about a deep fryer? Many say that it is a liquid and therefore a Class "B" fire. Wrong.
Deep fryers use animal or vegetable oils. Cooking oil fires burn hotter than other Class "B" liquid fires and the standard Class "B" extinguishing agents are not effective. So what should be used?
The "K" classification was given to fires involving cooking oils (animal and vegetable). These oils are considered combustible liquids and not "flammable liquids because their flash point is over 100 degrees F. But they burn hotter than other Class "B" liquid fires.
Class "K" fires are extinguished using an agent that is a potassium-based liquid. The liquid reacts with the burning cooking oil in a process called Saponification. It causes a frothing reaction that actually renders the surface of the cooking oil into soap. This soap also absorbs some of the heat thus removing that part of the equation needed for continued burning. Because the potassium is in a liquid form these extinguishers are known as "wet extinguishers."
If the agent is in an extinguisher you will need to know how to use it. What is your first action when you discover a fire aboard your vessel? If you said get an extinguisher and put out the fire you are wrong. Your first action should be to alert the crew, sound the alarm and let everyone know there is a fire. If you don't alert anyone and then you become incapacitated while fighting the fire no one will know there is a fire or what your location is. Only after you sound the alarm do you consider using the correct extinguisher.
Here are few things from the US Fire Administration (and amended by me for mariners in italics) to consider when deciding if it is advisable to use the extinguisher. Use a fire extinguisher only if:
- You have alerted other occupants and notified the bridge of the location and severity of the fire.
- The fire is small and contained to a single object, such as a wastebasket.
- You are safe from the toxic smoke produced by the fire.
- You have a means of escape identified and the fire is not between you and the escape route; and
- Your instincts tell you that it is safe to use an extinguisher.
If all of these conditions are not present, DO NOT try to use a fire extinguisher. Alert other occupants, leave the area, and fight the fire with the proper equipment and in a coordinated manner.
If it is safe to use the extinguisher remember P.A.S.S.
Pull the pin.
Aim at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the trigger.
Sweep from side to side.
Stay on top of your training and we can all enjoy that fried catfish dinner.
Marine Firefighting Inc. is available to provide the ongoing training your crews need to keep themselves fresh and up-to-date on the latest firefighting tactics and tools.
1 Note: In Europe and Australia there are 6 classification of fires. They are:
Class A: Ordinary combustibles
Class B: Flammable liquids
Class C: Flammable gases
Class D: Combustible metals
Class E: Electrical equipment
Class F: Cooking oil or fat
Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_classes_of_fire_are_there#ixzz1uyx9u79N
Tom Guldner, President of Marine Firefighting Inc., is a retired Lieutenant of the New York City Fire Department's Marine Division. Who also held a US Coast Guard License as a Ships Master,
He is a participating member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Fishing Vessel Operations and Safety panel and also their Small Working Vessel Operations and Safety panel.
Tom is also a Principal Member of the NFPA Technical Committee on Merchant Vessels. His articles on Marine Firefighting have been published both nationally and internationally. Tom can be reached at MarineFires@aol.com or visit his web-site at www.marinefirefighting.com
Marine Firefighting Inc. is involved in training mariners as well as land-based firefighters in all aspects of marine firefighting.
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