We have seen an increase in boat fires over this
season. One such call for the Cowes Lifeboat
took place on 29 August. These have partly been caused by
new owners being unfamiliar with basic boat maintenance that ensures their
vessels are seaworthy. I would urge all
boat owners to keep up an appropriate maintenance schedule to ensure breakdowns
are avoided as much as possible.
Fires generally begin in or around the engine space and can
be caused by things like leaking fuel and the resultant build-up of explosive
petrol vapours. Therefore, it is
recommended you carry out pre-departure checks and ensure the engine space is
kept clean and free from debris.
At High Risk
All boats if not maintained correctly, can develop issues,
hence the need to ensure a maintenance schedule is practiced. Some of the key factors to look out for when
carrying out maintenance and checks on your boat are:
- Worn or damaged fuel lines and hoses especially were they pass through clips or bulkheads
- Damaged or loose connections / connectors for both liquid and electrical systems
- Leaking filters, caps or sight glasses
- Damaged or disintegrating exhaust lagging
- Obviously damaged engine parts
- Corroding engine parts near saltwater inlet / outlets
- Leaking stern glands or shaft seals
Onboard safety equipment, especially fire extinguishers,
should be present and in good working condition. Inboard engine spaces can have
automatic fire suppression system fitted which set off should a fire occur.
Fire extinguishers should be serviced regularly to ensure they are effect
should they be needed.
Make sure you factor in the cost of maintaining your boat
and get it checked over as soon after you have bought it as possible. Don’t let your investment go up in smoke and
more importantly, endanger you or your passengers’ lives.
The RYA website contains further information about Fire Safety on Boats
Also, the Boat Safety Scheme
initiative from the Environment Agency
and the Canal and Rivers Trust
have created a Fire Safety On Boats Leaflet