Sometimes it gets hot:
Two fire fighting operations for SeaHelp in one day
There are days when SeaHelp is particularly challenged: First, the Yellow Angels of the Adriatic were called to the region off Rab, where supposedly a motorboat should burn. However, the alleged major fire turned out to be a small smoldering fire in the engine compartment, which the skippers had already cleared with on-board resources. During the inspection of the damage, the emergency services then received the message that a yacht was on fire near Punat. At full speed we went back to the home port, the smoke column in the area of the island of Plavnik was far visible so there was no need of further aids of navigation.
What happened? On the yacht with two people on board it had also come to a smoldering fire in the engine compartment with heavy smoke. When a member of the crew opened the hatch to the engine compartment, the sudden supply of oxygen caused a jet of flame. A few seconds later, more than half of the ship was already in flames and the crew had no choice but to jump overboard. Hurrying ships took on the people floating in the water. Fortunately they were unharmed.
Shortly after the SeaHelp mission boat also the police boat reached the accident site and began with the extinguishing work. The water and the later used extinguishing foam could do nothing against the burning of the boat shell.. Since at this point the water depth was about 50 meters, they tried together with the police forces to pull the ship into shallower waters. There it was finally allowed to burn off in a controlled manner until it sank. SeaHelp employees then secured and hauled in the wreck lying on the ocean floor.
SeaHelp already had 12 fires fighting operations this year, from small smoldering fires to yachts that were completely on fire. Therefore, the nautical breakdown service once again points out to thoroughly check the functionality of the automatic fire extinguishing facilities. If a smoldering fire breaks out in the engine compartment, the skipper usually detects this by heavy smoke. Such a smoldering fire usually takes place under the exclusion of oxygen, but nevertheless flammable gases are formed in the corresponding room due to the so-called pyrolysis. In addition, there is a negative pressure caused by the fire there. If, for example, the flap is opened to the engine compartment, oxygen flows in from the outside air and forms an ignitable mixture with the gases, which ignites on any remaining glow nests. This creates an explosion with danger to life when opening the engine cover.
It is difficult to decide when to open the engine cover and when to wait for the smoke to continue to smoke at a safe distance. There is only the possibility of preventively installed extinguishing devices, or to maintain existing extinguishing devices accordingly, so that their functionality is guaranteed in case of emergency.