Fire safety is crucial on a boat due to the unique challenges and risks associated with being on the water.
The team at Hartson Fire has come up with these guidelines to help keep you, your family and crew safe on a boat this summer.
Fire Safety Essentials on a Boat
Unlike on land, when a fire occurs on a boat, escape routes may be limited. There is a higher risk of being trapped, especially if the fire spreads quickly or if the boat is in a remote location. Proper fire safety measures help minimise the chances of a fire starting and spreading in the first place.
- Boats typically contain flammable materials such as fuel, propane, oil, and various chemicals. If a fire breaks out, these materials can accelerate the spread of the fire and make it more difficult to control. Good fire safety practices help reduce the risk of ignition and limit the potential for fire to rapidly engulf the vessel.
- When a fire occurs on a boat, firefighting resources are often limited compared to what is available on land. It may take time for emergency responders to reach the boat, especially if it is far from the shore. Therefore, early detection, prevention, and having appropriate fire extinguishing equipment onboard are crucial to minimise the impact of a fire.
- Boats can travel to remote or isolated areas where access to emergency services may be limited. Fire safety preparedness becomes even more critical in these situations. Preventive measures, regular equipment maintenance, and crew training help ensure that the crew can handle fire emergencies effectively until professional help arrives.
- Fires on boats can result in serious injuries, loss of life, and significant property damage. Proper fire safety practices, including the installation of fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems, can increase the chances of safe evacuation, and minimise the damage caused by a fire.
- Fires on boats can pose environmental risks, such as fuel or chemical spills, which can harm aquatic life and ecosystems. Effective fire safety measures help reduce the likelihood of environmental pollution and mitigate the impact on the surrounding environment.
Fire Extinguishers for Use on a Boat
In the UK, the fire extinguisher requirements for boats are governed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The specific requirements depend on the type and size of the vessel, as well as the intended use. Here are the general guidelines for fire extinguishers on boats in the UK:
- Pleasure Craft less than 13.7 meters (45 feet) in length:
- At least one fire extinguisher should be provided on board.
- The recommended type of fire extinguisher is a minimum of 2 kg dry powder, or 2 litres of foam, or a 2-liter water mist extinguisher.
- The extinguisher should be appropriate for extinguishing flammable liquid (B) fires.
- Pleasure Craft 13.7 meters (45 feet) to 24 meters (79 feet) in length:
- At least two fire extinguishers should be provided on board.
- The recommended types of fire extinguishers are a minimum of 4 kg dry powder, or 4 litres of foam, or a 4-liter water mist extinguisher.
- The extinguishers should be appropriate for extinguishing flammable liquid (B) fires.
- Pleasure Craft over 24 meters (79 feet) in length and Commercial Vessels:
- The fire extinguisher requirements for larger boats and commercial vessels vary depending on the specific regulations and classification society guidelines.
It is necessary to refer to the appropriate regulations, such as the MCA Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels or the Large Yacht Code (LY3), to determine the specific fire extinguisher requirements for these vessels.
A fire blanket can also be a useful fire safety tool on a boat. A fire blanket is a non-flammable sheet made of fire-resistant materials that can be used to smother small fires or wrap around a person whose clothing is on fire. While fire blankets are commonly associated with kitchen fires, they can also be used in various settings, including on boats.
Here are some situations where a fire blanket can be beneficial on a boat:
- Small Fires: A fire blanket can be used to extinguish small fires on a boat, such as fires in galley areas, where flammable materials or cooking equipment may be involved. By covering the flames with the fire blanket, oxygen is deprived, helping to smother the fire.
- Clothing Fires: In the event that a person's clothing catches fire on a boat, a fire blanket can be used to wrap around them and extinguish the flames. The blanket acts as a barrier, cutting off the oxygen supply and extinguishing the fire.
- Emergency Protection: Having a fire blanket readily available on a boat can provide an additional layer of emergency protection. It can be used to protect yourself or others from flames or smoke when evacuating the vessel.
It's important to note that fire blankets are typically effective for small fires or as a personal safety measure. For larger fires, it is recommended to have appropriate fire extinguishers, follow evacuation procedures, and contact emergency services. Additionally, it is crucial to familiarise yourself with the instructions for using a fire blanket and ensure it is easily accessible in case of emergencies on your boat.
To ensure fire safety on a boat, it is important to follow relevant regulations, conduct regular inspections and maintenance of fire safety equipment, have emergency response plans in place, and provide crew members with appropriate training on fire prevention, detection, and response procedures.
At Hartson Fire, we not only supply fire extinguishers and safety blankets which are ideal for boats, but we also carry out servicing on these fire safety systems for boat owners.
See our range of products here or call a member of our team to discuss your requirements on the number below: