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Marine Fire Safety Guidelines

Marine Fire Emergency: Prevention

A fire on your boat is a serious emergency that demands quick action.

Causes of Boat Fires

What causes a boat fire? All fires need three things to start and keep going:

  • Heat, such as a spark from a match,
  • Fuel, like gasoline;
  • And oxygen, like the air you breathe.

You can find all three of these things in and around most boats.

Gasoline fumes, which are heavier than air, can easily collect in the hull of a boat if there isn't proper ventilation. Just add a spark from an ignition and you could have a boat fire on your hands.

Removing any of these three sources will also let you extinguish the fire. We'll remember that as we learn what to do in the case of a fire on your boat.

Marine Fire Emergency: Response

If you are boating and a fire starts on board, here is what to do:

  • Stop the engine immediately! This is always the first thing to do in case of a boat fire.
  • Position your boat so that the wind blows the fire away from your boat. This will help prevent the fire from spreading and minimize smoke inhalation for you and your passengers.
  • If possible, separate the fuel source from the fire. For example, shut off the gas to the engine or disconnect the gas tank.
  • Grab your marine-rated fire extinguisher and do the following:
    • Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
    • Then, pull the pin and squeeze the two levers together to engage the extinguisher.
    • Take down all pertinent information, including the date, time and conditions; and
    • Now, use a sweeping motion while focusing on the base of the fire.
    • Continue using the extinguisher until the fire is completely out.

Nice work! You've put out the fire. Now, it's time to get to shore safely.

Use a distress signal or your marine radio to notify other boaters that you need help.