24 must-do's for fire safety on boats

24 must-do's for fire safety on boats

The importance of fire safety on a vessel should not be underestimated.  Fire is hot, fast and dangerous. Volatility of marine fuel, and potential of being isolated from land and rescue compounds the need for boaties to be savvy with their fire safety management.
Boat operators must know how to minimise the risk of fire onboard. Periodical and pre-start checks, operating practices, the right fire equipment and knowing how to use it correctly assist ‘boaties’ to remain safe and enjoy their time on the water. Here’s our ‘hot tips’ to help you keep your boat and loved ones’ fire safe.

Common causes of fire on boats:

  • Smoking below decks

  • Galley cookers

  • Accumulation of gas in the bilges

  • Faulty and aged wiring, overload, arcing

  • Petrol/ flammable vapour in engine bay

  • Flammable paints and solvents

Hot tips for on-board fire prevention

  1. You and your passengers should understand the vessel and its capabilities

  2. The wind, waves and sun multiply the effects of alcohol, staying under 0.05 reduces risk

  3. Flammable vapours are heavier than air and accumulate in the lower parts of the vessel, ventilate the vessel before starting the motor

  4. To ventilate flammable vapours and gas, open hatches, head downwind to allow fresh air into cabin areas and pump the bilges

  5. Store gas cylinders in ventilated spaces

  6. Check cylinders are ‘in test’ and fittings and tubing have no leaks

  7. Stow flammable liquids in well secured, upright containers in lockers that vent outboard

  8. Regularly inspect all fuel lines and the exhaust system for leakages

  9. When refuelling, isolate ignition sources and allow motors to cool off

  10. Maintain electrical equipment (a significant cause of fires on vessels) and do not operate any electrical switches or equipment if flammable vapours are present.

  11. Battery compartments should be ventilated as the gases produced are explosive

  12. Have electrical wiring checked regularly

  13. Working smoke alarms save lives. Install them near sleeping areas, away from fumes

  14. Fit working gas detectors in areas of potential gas leak and accumulation

  15. Portable fire extinguishers are designed for small fires, know how to use them and the types of fire it is suitable for 

  16. Fire extinguishers are fitted in easy to access locations near an exit point or controls

  17. Fire extinguishers are maintained  and in date (no older then 5 years)

  18. A fire blanket is stowed near the galley is a must

  19. Wireless automatic fire Suppression Stickers fitted to electrical, battery and fuel compartments are a first line of defence and can limit spread of fire

  20. Know the ‘fire escape plan’ for your vessel. It must account for everyone on board, whether moored or at sea.

  21. Never leave naked cooker flames and frying pans unattended

  22. If appliances are not in use gas cylinders are turned off.

  23. Smoking below decks should be avoided

  24. Consider installing an automatic suppression system (like the MiFire Sentry)