Inboard engines are common on a variety of boats, particularly larger pleasure craft and sportfishing vessels. They are also popular on ski boats where placing the prop deeper under water provides a cleaner wake and helps keep it away from the skier.
Inboard motors reside in an engine compartment, usually under the aft deck. Boats having an inboard engine compartment are typically less than 100 feet in length.
A fire onboard any vessel is a serious situation, but much more so on the open water remote from any assistance. Firefighting efforts must be carried out by those onboard with the equipment on hand.
While regulatory agencies such as the United States Coast Guard (USCG) require firefighting equipment to be carried onboard, the requirements are minimum standards. And since firefighting equipment does not help the vessel make money or add to the enjoyment of the boating experience, most vessel operators opt for only what is required to pass inspection. Even if the operator exceeds the minimum requirements, the vessel’s crew are mariners, not firefighters, and their training and experience in firefighting skills will be limited.
But when a fire occurs in an inboard engine compartment, the seriousness of the situation increases exponentially and can become catastrophic very quickly. This is because inboard engine compartments are found on smaller vessels. First, there is nowhere to retreat. And second, as the vessels are commonly outfitted with a fiberglass hull, it can burn down to the waterline in short order.
Making a fire in an inboard engine compartment even more difficult and dangerous is its location. As we mentioned, it is typically found under the deck and is therefore not readily accessible. Unless the boat is equipped with a fire port on the compartment, the crew will have to spend time and effort accessing the fire’s location.
With an aggressively burning engine compartment fire in a fiberglass hull, time is going to be very limited before the vessel must be abandoned with the occupants ending up in the water. Even if the boat is equipped with a fire port, there is no guarantee that a portable fire extinguisher directed through it will be effective once the fire has a solid start.
The threat of a fire in an inboard engine compartment is very real. All of the elements to start a fire are there: fuel, heat, and oxygen. Boat fuel, whether it be gasoline or diesel, is highly flammable; a small leak contacting a hot exhaust manifold or engine block will immediately ignite. Plus, there are myriad electrical components that can start a fire. And the engine along with its ancillary equipment are all crammed into a small space that is exposed to harsh conditions and receives varying levels of maintenance.
What vessel operators need is a system that is installed inside of the engine compartment which can detect the fire quickly and then discharge an agent effective on both flammable liquids and electrical fires. But the system must be compact (able to fit into the engine compartment), and it must be able to stand up to harsh environments of heat, salt air, vibration, fumes, and grime.
Because such a fire suppression system is installed under the deck where access is limited, it should also not require frequent maintenance and testing. To ensure compliance with maritime regulations, the system should be USCG approved. Last, but certainly not least, the system must be safe. The boat owner should not have to worry about it being harmful to the crew and passengers, nor should it pose any threat to the environment.
This sounds like a tall order, and it is. But there is one system available to vessel operators that checks every one of these boxes and that is Stat-X®. Stat-X is a revolutionary fire suppression system that is tailormade to provide quick and effective fire suppression for inboard engine compartments.
Furthermore, Stat-X is USCG approved, so boat operators can be assured it has been thoroughly tested and proven to be effective.
Stat-X units are compact and can easily be fitted into the tight confines of an inboard engine compartment. Once the units are exposed to fire conditions, they discharge—thus functioning as a fire detection device as well. The proprietary, potassium-based agent works quickly to interrupt a fire’s chemical chain reaction and is effective on both flammable liquid and electrical fires. And after discharged, the agent remains suspended for several minutes to provide reflash protection.
The Stat-X agent is contained within a durable housing that can withstand the harsh environment found in an inboard engine compartment. They are virtually maintenance-free, require no testing, and have a long-year service life. And Stat-X poses no safety risk to humans and has zero global-warming or ozone-depletion properties. This is significant as currently, many fire suppression agents are being banned or having their production curtailed because they have been found to be harmful to people or the environment.
An unwanted fire anywhere is bad news. When it occurs in an inboard engine compartment while a boat is underway, it can be a disaster. But with Stat-X, boat operators can be confident that their vessel is well protected by an agent that is safe and effective.