When a fire occurs on a vessel it can range from a minor fire that can be extinguished quickly, to a major blaze and possible explosion that can put the lives of all those onboard at risk.

Marine pollution will often be a by-product of a marine fire.

If a fire occurs ...

  • GET OUT.
  • You should be wearing your PFD.
  • For all but minor controllable fires, issue a MAYDAY call.
  • if you can ...
    • Tackle the fire if it is safe to do so...
    • Isolate fuel and other flammable materials if possible.
    • exhibit signals to indicate distress and need of assistance
      (the fire itself is a distress signal).
    • Avoid other craft ... and alert them.
    • Prepare emergency grab bag and liferaft.
    • Remove non essential crew ...
  • If necessary, ABANDON SHIP !!!

Should you feel that it is safe to tackle the fire, recognize the following factors.

  • In enclosed areas the main problem is smoke which can lead to disorientation, collapse, unconsciousness and death.
  • Do NOT use water on liquid fuel fires.   Water will instantly turn to steam causing a rapid 'boil' over and spread the blaze.   The mandatory type BC extinquisher required by larger vessels is appropriate for fuel fires.

Fire Prevention

Proper maintenance and awareness of potential hazards can minimize the possibility or severity of a fire.

  • Service your fire extinguishers annually, preferably at the start of the season.
  • Keep the vessel tidy. No debris or unnecessary materials stored in nooks or crannies.
  • Make sure fuel is properly stowed and separate from habitable areas.
  • Ensure inboard engines and fuel tanks are properly maintained. Check all fuel line fittings and be alert to recognizing fuel odours.
  • Properly vent all engine enclosures for four minutes before starting inboard engines.
  • Make sure through-hull electrical connections to outboard engines are protected from chaffing.
  • All electrical equipment should be properly protected from overload by fuse or circuit breaker.
  • Keep inboard cooking areas neat and clear of flammable materials.