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Fires on PWC

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Fire, Fire, Fire
by Scott Collier

FeatureFIRE! although fires in PWC’s do not occur often, they are something we can help avoid and be prepared for.

Fire is known as combustion and is defined as a rapid reaction between a combustible fuel and oxygen producing energy in the form of heat and light. Simply speaking this provides the energy to move your watercraft.

Basically, fire involves three substance combinations; heat, fuel and oxygen. Under the hood of your PWC the engine generates heat, there is fuel in the form of gas and oil and oxygen in the air. I guess you never thought you rode a time bomb!!! Not really. Everything is in a controlled environment or in balance.

Improper balance could result in a fire leading to damage of your pwc or personal injury. What creates an imbalance? IMPROPER MAINTENANCE AND CARE OF YOUR WATERCRAFT. Leaking fuel lines, carbs or gas tank may give combustion that necessary fuel to start a fire. This linked with an electrical short can cause damaging results. Proper and regular maintenance along with a pre ride check can avoid an area of imbalance.

FeatureWatercraft are equipped to carry a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are designed for small fires before they reach larger proportions. How do we know if the fire extinguisher is adequate for its purpose? Fire may be broken down into 4 categories: class A, B, C and D. We are concerned mostly with two types class A (ordinary combustibles) and B (flammable liquids). Most extinguishers are labeled for A, B and C class fires and are classified as multi-purpose. An extinguisher is classified with a rating number.

Example: 2A-10BC
For class A fires this example would be good for 10 square meters of burning (1A = 5 sq meters) or
For class BC fires this example would be good for 2.5 square meters of burning (1BC = 1/4 sq meters)

Feature

Be familiar with the type of extinguisher you carry. Don’t wait until you have a fire before you read the operating label! Most extinguishers are to be used by aiming the nozzle at the base of the flames, pressing a button or pulling a trigger then moving horizontally back and forth covering the area of fire until extinguishment is expelled or fire is completely out.

FeatureWhat if I can’t reach the extinguisher compartment?

Think back to fire 101. Water is an extinguishment and may be used to lower the temperature below fire point. This is great if it is fiberglass, vinyl or other ordinary combustible. However,fuel and oil are lighter then water and will float on the surface and continue to burn. Should your engine compartment be involved in fire you may be able to contain the fuels while overturning your craft and eliminating the oxygen supply allowing the fire to burn out quickly without causing major damage. Eliminating any one of the three ingredients and fire will not burn. Be cautious of fuel that may be spread around you should you be in the water.

Don’t be a hero!
Your craft can be replaced, you can’t. Use your common sense. If burning gets out of control swim or get away and call the local Fire Department

Points To Remember

  • Check your craft before you ride
  • Carry an appropriate extinguisher
  • Be aware of how your extinguisher operates
  • Fire relies on heat, fuel and oxygen. remove one ingredient and the fire will go out
  • Think of your personal safety
  • Be cautious of re-ignition
PWC Zone

Related Articles:
Firefighting Basics
Also see the Basic Boating Safety Course

 

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