March 12, 2024

Fire Prevention on Boats

Fires on Boats

Fire Prevention on Boats

A fire on a boat or in a marina is an extremely dangerous situation. Why? Fires on boats can spread very quickly, because the boat and its contents become fuel for the fire. Consider the case of the 70-foot Marlow motor yacht, the Elusive, which burned in New Hampshire in 2022. All those on board, including the owner’s two dogs, had to swim for their lives as the fire, which had blocked access to the life vests, consumed the boat and sank its remains in two hours, despite firefighting efforts by the US Coast Guard and local authorities. In another case, 34 people aboard a recreational boat off the coast of Southern California were killed. The cause of the fire was not found, but investigators believe it started in an area where passengers had plugged in items with combustible batteries, like phones and flashlights. In each of these cases, the fire did not start in the engine room, but in the passenger areas, which highlights the need for safe practices to prevent these kinds of disasters. Here, California Yacht Marina offers some fire prevention tips to help keep you and your boat safe.

Common Fire Causes

Many people assume that fires start in the engine room, and so they install a fire-suppression system there and believe themselves to be safe. However, fires can start just about anywhere on a boat, especially given the propensity of fiberglass resin to burn. A fire that starts somewhere unexpected and hidden, perhaps in an area that’s unoccupied while the boat is underway, can smolder for hours before bursting into open flames, and if no one is nearby with an extinguisher, it may be impossible to stop. In the case of a yacht fire in south Florida, the cause was a cabin door that was left open directly under a high-wattage halogen light that shone directly onto the top surface of the door. Because this light was left on, the heat from the light started a fire within the door that quickly spread throughout the yacht. At the time, the yacht was berthed, and the heat spread so quickly that the classic wooden sailboat in the next berth was also destroyed. While a lightbulb setting a door on fire may sound like a fluke, it underscores the need to be vigilant about causes of fire. Common causes include:

  • Smoking below decks
  • Faulty Wiring
  • Gasoline vapor in the engine bay
  • A buildup of butane or propane gas in the bilges
  • Galley cookers
  • Flammable paints and solvents

Fire Prevention Tips

To protect your boat, first, make sure everyone on board knows the location of fire extinguishers and fire blankets. Everyone in the crew should know how to operate these safety items. Install gas and smoke detectors, and consider an automatic fire suppression system, to put out fires when you are not where the fire is located. Pay attention to the bilges, and if you believe there has been a buildup of gas, open the hatches, head downwind to let fresh air circulate, and pump the bilges. Then, take the following safety measures.

  • Have the wiring checked regularly
  • Don’t allow smoking below decks
  • Keep gas valves turned off at the bottle and cooker when not in use
  • Do not leave naked cooker flames and frying pans unattended
  • Check butane and propane gas fittings and tubing regularly for leaks
  • Keep butane and propane gas bottles in cockpit lockers which drain overboard
  • Stow all flammable liquids in well secured, upright containers in lockers that vent outboard
  • Always vent engine bays before starting inboard engines

Store Your Boat Somewhere Safe

If you are looking for a safe place in Southern California to moor your boat, trust California Yacht Marina. In business for over 35 years, California Yacht Marina has a well-earned reputation for excellence in the Southern California fishing and boating community. We’re a family-owned business with state-of-the-art facilities at our three  conveniently located marinas, and we can meet your needs, whether you want a family friendly place to dock or park your boat, you’re looking for an amazing waterfront outdoor event venue, or you need nautical filming locations for rent in Los Angeles, CA. Schedule a tour with us so you can see our spectacular facilities for yourself, call us at ??? or contact us through our website for more information.