The USCG published a marine safety alert addressing the dangers of unprotected heat sources on marine vessels. For example, is your boat constructed from combustible materials such as wood or fiberglass? Even steel and aluminum vessels often have wood interiors and flammable furniture, making them susceptible to boat fires. The USCG made three recommendations to mariners to help protect their vessels from fires.
1) Protect combustible materials from heat sources through insulation, heat shields, or partitions, especially where piping passes through bulkheads.
2) On older vessels built with general-purpose resin, use non-combustible panels.
3) Use fire-retardant resin or non-combustible panels around compartment boundaries for new construction.
Check your boat for fire hazards before you head out on the water. Check that the electrical panels aren't overloaded and that all wiring meets marine standards. Make sure that your engine room is clean and free of combustibles. Ensure your boat has adequate vents and open space around your heat sources. Without sufficient space between heat sources and bulkheads, decks, or roofs, install non-combustible materials for a heat shield. Look for warning signs such as dry, brittle wood, cracking or discolored resin, and make fire-smart changes to your vessel.
Do everything you can to prevent a marine fire, and prepare your vessel and crew to fight fires. Train with your team and maintain fire extinguishers in appropriate locations around your boat.
AMSEA teaches mariners how to fight fires in our fishing vessel drill conductor class. Sign up for a drill conductor class near you if you want additional training.