Ted Williams (left), marine safety coordinator with Hercules SLR (U.S.), and Freedom skipper Derek Eilertsen and his daughter display the DSPA-5 used to put out the engine room fire on the scalloper.
Every month we feature eight products in National Fisherman’s Product Roundup section. Two of those are selected for a more extensive discussion because they are new, they are innovative, and they might make a difference in the lives of commercial fishermen.
From reader surveys we know it’s a well-read section, but we don’t generally hear how a particular product affected someone’s life. Well this time we did, though truth be told, we don’t know if the DSPA-5 flame extinguisher was first learned about in the pages of NF or at the local marine dealer. In this case, that probably would have been Hercules SLR in New Bedford, Mass., who informed us of the incident. However, the source isn’t so critical. What’s important is that the DSPA-5 extinguisher does its duty.
The DSPA-5, a product of AFG Flameguard USA, (DSPA Flameguard Ltd. can be contacted for products in Canada) is an aerosol-based fire suppression and extinguishing system with potassium compounds that break the bond between oxygen and a fire, thus putting down the fire in seconds. It’s packaged in a handheld disc-shaped object with a firing pin by the handle. Pull the pin; toss the DSPA-5 in the area with the fire, close the door, and shortly the fire should be extinguished.
This past Easter Sunday, the scalloper Freedom was towing its dredges when the winches stopped responding. The boat’s skipper, Derek Eilertsen, attempted to check the hydraulic system in the engine room but was driven back by intense heat and smoke.
The crew tossed a DSPA-5 into the engine room and shut the door. A few minutes later the door was cool to the touch. When they opened the door, there was less smoke and heat, allowing them to extinguish smouldering insulation with a wash-down hose.
A leaky hydraulic hose was the culprit, spraying oil on the exhaust, which ignited the oil. The DSPA kept the fire from spreading and instead of thousands of dollars for repair work, the damage was minimal. And no one was injured.
The Freedom returned to port under her own power and, after a day spent making minor repairs and cleaning up the engine room, went back fishing.
Obviously, when it matters, the DSPA-5 extinguisher does its duty and makes a difference.