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VOL. 12 NO. 2
Take a class

Preventing boat fires

How to prevent a fire aboard your boat

Navigation Rules

Fire on a boat is a serious matter. On shore you can run away and call for help. On a boat, you have nowhere to go except into the water, and help may be far away.

You can prevent many fires by quickly finding and correcting conditions that could cause a fire.

Inspect your boat’s bilge frequently. Keep it free of grease, oil and debris. Check your fuel system for leaks.

Regularly inspect electrical wiring. Repair bare wires or loose electrical connections to prevent a spark from igniting fuel vapors.

Use only marine-rated parts for repairs.

Store dinghy fuel and propane topside where they have plenty of ventilation.

Ensure charcoal is completely cold before securing the grill. Use caution because the embers may remain a fire hazard long after use.

Close all hatches before fueling; ground your fuel line nozzle against the fill pipe to eliminate static sparks.

Ventilate your engine compartment after every fueling until you are sure there are no dangerous vapors. Use your nose to sniff for vapors.

If your boat is equipped with a bilge blower, run it for at least 4 minutes until the bilge is clear of fumes. Sniff the blower exhaust.

Starting the engine when gasoline vapors are present in the bilge causes most fires. This type of fire starts with an explosion and spreads rapidly.

Diesel fuel burns as fast as gasoline when ignited. The only difference is that the temperature at which the diesel fumes ignite is higher.

Keep more than the required numbers and size of approved fire extinguishers readily accessible. Mount them properly where you can get at them quickly and easily. Have them checked annually to ensure they are fully charged and in working order.

Plan ahead. Know what you will do to combat fire in any section of your boat.

To learn more, take America’s Boating Course, available in English and Spanish.
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