Fire Extinguishers on Commercial Vehicles

All commercial trucks, truck tractor and busses must be equipped with a portable fire extinguisher. It must be readily accessible for use and securely mounted to prevent sliding, rolling or vertical movement relative to the motor vehicle.

If you are carrying hazardous materials the fire extinguisher must have a minimum rating of 10 B:C, otherwise the extinguisher must have a minimum rating of 5 B:C.

We sell two Amerex fire extinguishers that meet the 10 B:C minimum (and these are the smallest models they offer). Both come standard with a bracket designed to vehicle mounting and they meet all of the requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Model 417T is rated as a 1 A, 10 B:C extinguisher. It uses ABC dry chemical powder which while less expensive than other models, this dry chemical powder tends to adhere to hot surfaces making clean up a bit of an issue.

Model 410T is rated as a 10 B:C extinguisher. It uses a BC dry chemical powder known as Purple K. This powder is noted for being an extremely effective agent for extinguishing Class B flammable liquid and pressurized gas fires. After the fact it also provides easier clean up than the ABC powder.

Both of these fire extinguishers are dimensionally the same so the choice is in their extinguishing agent.

If you want the full Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation, click this link for Part 393.95.

Lifting tackle modification

A customer asked if there was a way to modify our 5:1 lifting tackle so it would be easier to extend. Having the Prusik knot on the upper triple block put the least load on the knot when hoisting but it makes it difficult to extend the device to its full length. We did a little checking and some testing and found an easy solution.


Moving the Prusik knot to the lower double block allows you to keep it loose for extending the lifting tackle but still work great under load.

The first step is removing the Prusik cord from the upper triple block.


The you retie the knot on the correct leg of rope (see the first image and follow the pink arrows) on the lower double block. The second image above shows the first loop of the Prusik knot.


Here we have completed the knot by passing the cord through for the second loop. Needless to say inspecting the knot prior to removing it in the first place would make this easier.


Now we have attached the Prusik cord to the shackle on the lower double block and other than tightening up the knot, our work is done.


The lifting tackle is ready to be put back in to service and now it will be much simpler to extend it to its full length. As of June 28, 2016 all of the 5:1 lifting tackles ordered from us will be rigged in this manner.

If you need any help performing this modification give me a call at (253) 627-6000.

Ikaros hand held smoke signal recall

The USCG issued safety alert 04-16 regarding hand held smoke signals (their other smoke signals like the 3 minute lifeboat smoke or 15 minute bridge smoke are not affected by this safety alert) manufactured by Hansson Pyrotech using the Ikaros brand name.

These are not the “lifeboat” smoke signals used in life boat and life raft equipment packs, rather they are a hand held version used in bridge flare kits of some passenger carrying vessels.

If you have any of these contact Datrex directly at (337) 738-4511.


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Seattle Boat Show 2016 number 4

basic throw bag by Westpac
Basic Throw Bag

For the 2016 show we have made a very basic throw bag which will sell for a very basic price. It still has all the functionality of our standard products, we have just used a less expensive rope (which does not have the UV durability) and removed some of the bells and whistles.

This 50 foot throw bag is perfect if you want one for your kayak or can keep it out of the sun on a larger boat. For $16.95 it is a real bargain. It has 3/8″ rope and the bag is 1000d Cordura fabric using our “cornet” design for easy stowing. We manufacture these throw bags at our facility in Tacoma, WA.

Come check them out and take one home at our booth number 2122 on the Concourse Level (upstairs). We are on the west side, about in the middle next to the Intellian booth which has large satellite domes.

End of the year savings on EPIRBs and Switlik X-Back vests

We have special pricing on several of the items we offer:

GME Category I EPIRBs for only $499.00 (subject to stock on hand). These beacons have integral GPS and use the inexpensive to replace Hammar hydrostatic release.

Switlik X-Back with Molle constant wear crew vest. Switlik will not let us advertise the price, you will need to call Rollie at (800) 343-5826.

Switlik’s X-Back Basic constant wear vest. This is the economy version of the X-Back with Molle but still has the most popular features at a lower price. Again, Switlik will not allow us to advertise our price, you will need to call Rollie at (800) 343-5826.

Immersion Suit Donning Poster

Immersion suit donning poster

Customers have been asking us for an Immersion Suit Donning poster printed on durable vinyl that could be exposed to the elements. We now have them in stock. They are about 8″ wide and 10½” tall and are printed on white self-adhesive vinyl. This is a generic poster, not brand specific and covers both USCG and SOLAS immersion suits.

You can order them from or by calling (253) 627-6000, they are $9.40 each.

Calorie or calorie

Emergency preparedness is in the news right now and Datrex, one of our suppliers suggested that we put their water and rations on our web site. When I was adding the information for the rations I ended up really confused. In university physics my professors alway told us to be careful of the units of measure and ever since then I have kept an eye out.

I was used to the unit of “calorie”: the energy needed to increase 1 gram of water by 1ºC at a pressure of 1 atmosphere. Reading the Datrex specification sheet it said that each ration had 12 bars of 200 calories each which would total 2400 calories.

The ration also states that it has 10,000 kilojoules of energy but a simple conversion of 2400 calories only yields 10 kilojoules. Confusion reigns but Google came to the rescue.

Unknown to me, or maybe forgotten, there is also the Calorie. The Calorie is sometimes called the large calorie or the food calorie and it is defined as: the energy needed to increase 1 kg of water by 1ºC at a pressure of 1 atmosphere. So rather than raising 1 gram of water 1ºC it is raising 1000 grams of water.

Now this is making sense, 12 bars of 200 Calories yields 2400 Calories.  This is the same as 2400 kcal or 10,000 kilojoules (kJ). I guess my professors were correct, you have to watch those units.

For more information on Datrex rations go to

Inflatable PFD Servicing

IMG_1311We service inflatable lifejackets (PFD’s) and we just had two come in that were really old. After talking about it with the owner, he decided to remove them from service and asked if we would dispose of them.

On one lifejacket, the CO2 cartridge did not want to unscrew from the inflator. This was not a real problem since we discharge the cartridge in to the lifejacket as a way to remove the gas charge. Still something just didn’t feel right so rather than pulling the cord in the shop we too it outside and put the device in the bed of our pickup truck. When the lanyard was pulled, the gas discharged and the plastic inflator broke.

IMG_1312Then the CO2 cartridge was free to fly around in the bed of the truck making quite a racket. Fortunately nobody was hurt and even more importantly this lifejacket was not used in a survival situation where the user might have died.

Lessons learned include:

  • Make sure the CO2 cartridge is threaded into the inflator properly. They should thread in smoothly and not bind. It is possible this one was cross threaded putting added load on the plastic inflator.
  • Inspect, or have a professional inspect, you inflatable life jackets yearly. It is easy to do and does not require any special tools.
  • Inflatable life jackets age, plastics become brittle and the buoyancy tube(s) can lose their ability to hold air. These devices are not designed to last 20 years. Replacement every 10 years is prudent.
  • When in doubt, discharge a vest in a controlled environment to keep everybody safe.

If you have any questions please feel free to stop in with your vests.