By: Frank Lanier
Can you tell me what a “fire port” is and if I should have one. I own a 2007 Sea Ray Sundancer with inboard engines.
A fire port is simply a small access port or opening that allows you to discharge a portable fire extinguisher into the engine compartment in the event of a fire, without opening the hatch. You never want to open the hatch, because doing so can actually stoke a fire by providing a rush of oxygen. Fire ports are recommended for boats with inboard engines, particularly if there is no automatic “clean agent” fire-extinguishing system (e.g., CO2, Halotron, FM-200, FE-241) installed in the engine compartment. While a fully automatic fire extinguishing system is the preferred approach, fire ports can also be effective, provided you use the correct type of portable extinguisher. That dry chemical unit that works so well in the galley is not suitable for use with a fire port. In the galley, you can direct the chemical at the base of the fire to extinguish it. With a fire port, you’d just be blindly spraying it into the engine compartment. A gaseous, clean agent extinguisher (as mentioned above) extinguishes the fire by displacing the oxygen supply in the compartment, making it much more effective. Clean agent also means no residue to clean up after the fire is out. Dry chemical residue is extremely corrosive to your engine, and in some cases can cause more damage than the fire itself.