A Fire Extinguisher Test by Navy Department

A Fire Extinguisher Test by Navy Department

Tests at the Norfolk Navy Yard to Show Best Type of Extinguisher for the Use of Navy Power Boats—Nine Tests Were Conducted

Chief R. A. Foster, Norfolk Navy Yards

A TEST was recently held at the Norfolk Navy Yard the object of which was to determine the relative value of the acid-soda, foam and tetrachloride types of fire extinguishers as standard equipment for power boats throughout the United States naval establishment.

The boats used in the tests were two 35-foot motor boats and one 32foot motor boat, which were typical of the closed types of vessel, and three 21-ft. dories, which were stripped to represent the open type of naval vessel. All of these boats had been condemned and the engines removed with one exception, a motor dory. They were shored up to give them a slight trim by the bow and the bilges filled with water to a depth of approximately 4 inches. The closed boats had improvised hatches over the engine compartments consisting of sheet metal plates. These were raised to simulate a slightly raised hatch of a motor boat in service.

The extinguishers used were the 2-gallon foam type and 2 1/2 gallon acid-soda type. The firm of Murrie, Dorland and Vernon of New York City had representatives on hand with the end-fire type extinguisher : This is a 3 pint capacity carbon tetrachloride extinguisher, similar in size and shape to the pyrene type. The pump mechanism, however, differs in that it is a rotary type with a collapsible handle for operating. There is a piston in the container operated by a worm which is bevel geared to the handle. Liquid is forced out a small nozzle by this piston moving along the rotating worm. A small valve prevents liquid escaping when not in use. This is operated by the main operating handle in such a way that turning it in a clockwise direction opens the valve and then ejects the liquid. A safety device prevents operator from accidentally turning handle in the wrong direction.

Two gallons of gasoline were poured in the bilges and well distributed over the surface of the water. The boats were fired in turn by dropping lighted torches in the bilges. A short period of time was allowed to elapse before the extinguishers were brought into play. In the majority of the tests this was 20 seconds. The time that each extinguisher actually played on the fire was taken bv stop watch and recorded. Also the time it took to put out the fire was noted.

The wind velocity was about 25 to 30 miles and direction on port beam of all the boats. Eighteen hours preceding the tests there had been a steady drizzle and was a slight rain throughout the test.

The information and illustrations in this article were furnished through the courtesy of Chief R. A. Foster, of the Norfolk Navy Yard. The following is an official description of the test:

Description of Test

Test No. 1

Boats used, 21-ft. motor dory. Extinguisher used, acidsoda type. Time allowed for fire to start, 30 seconds, hirst extinguisher was exhausted in one minute and 10 seconds; second extinguisher started immediately. Second extinguisher was exhausted in 2 minutes, 25 seconds. Third extinguisher started immediately and exhausted in 3 minutes, 45 seconds.

Two end-fire type extinguishers were then brought into play and fire put out at 4 minutes. These times mentioned are the accumulated time from the playing of the first extinguisher on the flame after the fire had been allowed to gain headway.

Test No. 2

Same as boat No. 1. Immediately after one gallon of gasoline was poured in bilges. Fire was started and allowed to burn 25 seconds. One end-fire types fire extinguisher was exhausted in 25 seconds. Two extinguishers were then turned on the fire and both exhausted at the end of 55 seconds. A fourth extinguisher was then used and exhausted at two minutes. Fire was then allowed to burn itself out.

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Test No. 1Test No. 6

Fire Extinguisher Test by Navy

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Test No. 3

Twenty-one ft. motor dory. Extinguisher used. One foam type extinguisher used at the stern. Fire allowed to burn 20 seconds. Only one extinguisher was used and fire was put out in one minute, 30 seconds.

Test of the End-Fire and Pyrene Extinguishers in Putting Out Gasoline Fire

Test No. 4

Twenty-one ft. motor dory. End-fire type extinguisher used for this test after fire had burned 20 seconds. In 20 seconds No. 1 end-ifire type extinguisher exhausted. 25 seconds No. 2 started; 1 minute, 20 seconds No. 3 started. 1 minute, 30 seconds No. 2 exhausted; 1 minute, 40 seconds pyrene extinguisher started. 1 minute, 45 seconds No. 3 exhausted. 1 minute, 45 seconds pyrene stopped; fire out.

Test No. 5

Thirty-five ft. motor boat. Two acid-soda type extinguishers used, one forward in cockpit and one abaft hatch. Fire allowed to burn 20 seconds. Started No. 1 and No. 2 extinguishers together. 55 seconds hatches closed; 1 minute 15 seconds third extinguisher started at hatch opening; 1 minute, 35 seconds No. 1 extinguisher exhausted; 1 minute, 40 seconds No. 2 extinguisher exhausted; 1 minute, 40 seconds No. 4 extinguisher from cockpit; 2 minutes, 10 seconds No. 5 extinguisher started at hatch. 2 minutes, 30 seconds No. 3 exhausted; 2 minutes, 40 seconds No. 6 extinguisher started at hatch opening; 2 minutes, 45 seconds No. 4 exhausted. Fire out at 3 minutes, 40 seconds.

Test No. 6

Thirty-two ft. motor boat. Foam type extinguisher used, one forward in cock-pit and one at hatch opening. Fire allowed to burn 20 seconds, both extinguishers started together. 2 minutes, 20 seconds No. 1 exhausted; 3 minutes No. 2 exhausted. 2 minutes, 20 seconds No. 3 extinguisher started in cock-pit. 3 minutes, 45 seconds, fire out.

Test No. 7

Thirty-five ft. motor boat. End-fire type extinguisher used. Fire allowed to burn 20 seconds. Two extinguishers used from cock-pit and fire extinguished in 15 seconds.

Hatches were then thrown back and chlorine gases allowed to escape. The fire was again started by torch and one pyrene extinguisher was used after fire had been allowed to burn 20 seconds. Fire out in 30 seconds. Again the hatches were thrown back and compartment allowed to be ventilated. One gallon of gasoline was added, the fire was again started and allowed to burn 20 seconds. One acid-soda type extinguisher was used which put the fire out in 17 seconds.

Test No. 8

Thirty-five motor boat, originally used for Test No. 5. 1 gallon of gasoline used. One end-fire type extinguisher was used in the cock-pit and fire allowed to burn 20 seconds. No. 1 extinguisher exhausted in 25 seconds and No. 2 started immediately. Fire out 30 seconds. This compartment was allowed to air out fire started again without additional gasoline. Two acid-soda type extinguishers were used after fire burned 20 seconds, fire out 30 seconds.


In the opinion of the yard the foam type extinguisher is better adapted for open boats and the acid-soda for closed boats. The foam type, however, if handled by an experienced person is very effective and perhaps not as dangerous as the other type.

In addition to the above described tests a comparative test of the end-fire extinguisher with the pyrene type was made. One gallon of gasoline was poured on the ground in a line extending about 20 feet and was ignited, when the whole line was ablaze the end-fire type extinguisher was brought into play and fire put out in 21 seconds, the same conditions were imposed upon the pyrene fire extinguisher and it was exhausted after 41 seconds having put out about 85 per cent, of the flame.

Gastonia Has Two Weeks Fireless Record—According to Chief George McLaughen of the-Gastonia, N. C., fire department the first two weeks of July this year have broken a record of five years’ standing, in that not a single fire of any description was reported during that period.

Test No. 7At the End of Test No. 8

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