What is worse than having a fire in front of the boat when you’re sailing with friends or even family members? I bet you’ll find yourself in a difficult situation! Boat fire is common these days especially in front of the boat, it can be confusing to be in such a situation if you don’t have any knowledge on how to deal with breaks on the boat.
A fire break in front of your boat can happen at any instance and regardless of the cause, you might end up with destruction or serious injuries to the people on board which is even worse. In this post, we’ll outline the important steps you need to take when a fire breaks in front of your boat.
Cause Of Fire Break-In Front Of The Boat
“Prevention is better than cure” and that’s why you need to know the major causes of fire breaks in front of the boat. The common causes are electric and off boat sources, others include;
- Off boat sources account for 26% of fire outbreaks on the boat. This can be in the garage, barns, or marinas. Out of this percentage, 70% are from marinas. Some could also be a result of other people’s boats.
- Direct current electricity; This accounts for 15% of fire outbreaks on the boat. This mostly happens as a result of operation failure during battery cable connection.
- Engine electrical, accounting for up to 20% of fire outbreaks on the boat. This is as a result of engine failure or wiring harnesses.
- AC current; This accounts for 9% of fire outbreaks, it’s mainly due to poor or low-quality power codes. Boats that are over 10 years old are more vulnerable.
- Batteries; Account for 8% of fire outbreaks on boats, and it’s common on old outboards.
- Other engine problems; Resulting in 9% of outbreaks which could be due to overheating, water sediments, or engine failures due to old age.
See Also: What Should You Do If A Fire Breaks Out In The Back Of Your Boat?
We can then further group fire outbreaks on a boat into different categories;
- A: Outbreak that includes solid materials such as timber, paper, bedding, and others.
- B: Outbreaks including liquid substances like gasoline and oil.
- C: Gas-related explosions.
- D: Metal explosions.
- F: Cooking and fat oil flames.
What To Do Immediately If A Fire Breaks Out In Front Of Your Boat?
- Shutdown the engines and cut fuel supply
This is the first step to take when there is a fire outbreak in front of your boat, things will go wrong if you let the engine continue running. Chances are the engine is overheated, or the fuel leak helps to ignite the fire.
All boats will allow you to shut the engines and also stop fuel supply easily, these are basic things you should know before you start using any boat. No fuel will move out if it happens that fuel lines are damaged and explosion will be minimized.
- Shut all gas cylinders
If there are gas cylinders on the boat, they have to be turned off immediately. This is to avoid any gas leaks that can as well lead to an explosion, you don’t want gas lines to be compromised.
- Turn the board around in a way that the wind sweeps the fire away
Another important step that will allow you to get things under control, this way you’ll be able to reduce further damages. In simple terms, you don’t want to be sailing in the direction of the wind since fire flames will be towards the driver and the passengers on the boat.
Not only in front of the boat, but this should also be done if there is a fire outbreak on other parts of the boat as well. Move-in a direction that makes it comfortable and less harmful to protect everyone on the boat and also prevent the fire from touching areas that are not yet affected.
- Send a distress call
This is aimed at warning and alerting nearby vessels that you’re in danger. Alternatively, you can call emergency responders so that they can come to your aide.
You need to provide a full description of your boat and location including; current location, type of boat and scale, name of the boat, and the number of passengers on board. You can use VHF radio for emergency help immediately, use visual signals like whistles or air horns to get attention.
- Use fire suppression systems
There should be fire suppression systems installed on the boat and you need to switch them on, they’re fixed in the kitchen or engine compartment. Every boat is supposed to have fixed extinguishing systems and can be activated in emergency situations like this.
These systems allow fire suppression safely and remotely before aid arrives, modern boats should have automatic systems in place so that they can easily detect smoke and execute immediately. You shouldn’t however wait if the automatic systems aren’t activated, you should use manual controls to activate them right away.
- Gather passengers and deploy a life raft
You need to instruct all passengers to put on life jackets or life rafts so that they’re ready for evacuation. You either do it yourself or have someone to deploy it for them.
- Start using a fire extinguisher
You should then attempt to put out the fire if the emergency team hasn’t yet arrived, you should know how to use fire extinguishers on the boat as well in case of emergencies like this. If you’re able to stop the fire, we can say that things are under control now and it’s now easier for everyone to get evacuated.
How To Prepare For Fire Breaks On Boats
In the video shared below, it is amazing to see how a boat will quickly go up in flames if a fire breaks out.
You’re not hoping for it, but you have to be ready for the worst, here are some of the things you have to do in order to ensure you can tackle fire break on your boat;
- Always check to ensure you have working fire extinguishers and also ensure that they’re properly placed.
- Have smoke alarms in place so that automatic fire suppression systems can be activated.
- Follow power and fuel safety procedures.
- Check the first aid kit before sailing.
- Examine your inventory.
- All your passengers should know the necessary safety protocols.
Recommended: Who Is Responsible For Explaining Fire Safety Procedures To Passengers On A Boat?.
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