Boat fire safety advice

Press Published on:11/09/2017

Boat safety advice

The number of boat fires on our coastal and inland waters is relatively low.  However, when they do occur, they quite often have devastating consequences.

Due to the remote location of moorings, the fire and rescue service, when called to deal with an incident, can experience difficulties in gaining access to the incident. On many occasions, these incidents result in the total destruction of the boat and to surrounding property.

Tips to help you to stay safe

By following some simple advice you can ensure your boating activities are a safe and enjoyable event:

  • Make sure you know your boat and make a fire action plan with everyone in the boat.
  • Fit a smoke alarm that meets British Standard BS5446 Part 1 and carries an approval mark such as 'kitemark'.
  • Fit a gas and petrol vapour detector alarm in the bilge and even in the cabin space to give you early warnings of dangerous build-ups of explosive gases.
  • Check all appliances are turned off and if possible, close the valve on the LPG cylinders before you go to bed or leave the boat.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.  Make sure they are put out safely.
  • Keep candles, matches, lighters and other sources of flame out of reach of children.
  • Make sure cigarettes are put out safely - use metal ashtrays.  Avoid falling asleep with a lit cigarette - never smoke in bed.
  • Never leave a hot hob unattended especially when cooking with oil or fat.
  • Don't fit curtains or fabrics over hob burners and don't dry tea towels or clothes over a cooker or hob.

This may seem a long list but most of the actions are common sense.  If you follow the advice you will help reduce the risk of fire occurring on your boat.

Fire, explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning on boats

There are an increasing number of incidents on boats each year involving fire, explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning.

These incidents are causing deaths and injury to the boating community, threatening nearby properties and causing risk to firefighters attending incidents.

Find out more about these fire risks:

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
  • Petrol
  • Solid Fuel Stoves

Causes of fire on boats

The cause of fire is varied, but could include:

  • Escape of gas from an LPG installation coming into contact with an ignition source resulting in fire/explosion
  • Flammable vapours entering the accommodation space coming into contact with an ignition source resulting in fire/explosion
  • Incorrectly installed heating appliances some of which are do-it-yourself installations 
  • Candles/cigarettes etc positioned in proximity to combustible materials

Have an escape plan

Consider the following when you create an escape plan:

  • Your means of escape should always be clear and free from obstruction
  • Your means of escape should always be free from trip/slip hazards
  • Consider an alternative escape route in case the normal route gets blocked
  • All doors or windows for means of escape should open easily in the event of a fire; keep keys to door and window locks handy
  • If a window needs to be broken, use a heavy object to break the glass in the bottom corner, cover jagged edges of glass with a towel to avoid injury
  • Plan ahead together prepare and agree an escape plan with those on board, including visitors
  • In the event of a fire everyone should, stay calm and get off the boat as quickly as possible
  • Everyone should keep low where the air is clearer
  • If clothing catches fire, stop, drop and roll. Use a fire blanket to smother the flames
  • Always try to remember the location of the boat; it will be essential information in the event of an emergency
  • Do not go back onto the boat - GET OUT, STAY OUT and dial 999!