5 boat fire safety tips that could save your life

Last week in Albany WA, a man in his seventies was killed in a fire, which started on a yacht moored in the harbour

Firefighters attended the scene, but the man was sadly deceased by the time they arrived. It’s believed that the man was the owner of the vessel. The cause of the fire has not been determined yet. (Head here for more on the tragedy.)

This week, we’re taking time out to talk fire safety.

  1. Get serious about maintenance

Maritime Safety Victoria’s website says incorrectly installed marine electrics are one of the top causes of fires on boats. When it comes to electrics never go DIY.

Always employ a certified marine electrician to install and repair electrics, and make sure you have a regular maintenance schedule in place.

Ask around for quality marine electricians on Facebook or amongst your local boating community.

2. Ventilate the engine compartment

Fuel leaks in the engine compartment cause fumes to build up, which can easily turn explosive if sparked. This can happen on startup, or even once you’re on your journey.

As well as checking for leaks and using quality fuel hoses, be sure to ventilate the engine compartment before start up, and keep your eye on it during your voyage.

It’s also worth installing a vapour detection unit, which will warn you if fumes are building up.

  1. Don’t skimp on fuel hoses

Quality fuel hoses are a must on boats. Poorly made fuel lines can break, split or become brittle when they are in contact with fuel, which makes them extremely dangerous.

Clamps on fuel lines should be tight, as if they become loose, petrol could spill into your bilge or other spaces, while the tank is being filled.

Get your fuel lines checked and maintained regularly.

  1. Be fire ready

Having the right fire safety equipment on board could very easily save your life. In Australia, even recreational vessels are supposed to have fire protection gear on board at all times.

Depending on your boat, you’ll probably need to carry a portable fire extinguisher, fire blanket, a bucket with a lanyard and possibly, fixed fire extinguishing systems.

Here is more detailed information on what to carry and why.

  1. Know what to do

All the tips listed above mean very little if you don’t have an action-plan, should a fire take place. Take the time to know how to use a fire extinguisher, and make sure your crew do too.

According to, you will only have moments to act once a fire starts, so spending time reading instructions is a luxury you don’t have.

If your boat is underway when a fire sparks, recommends the following steps to stop it from spreading:

  • Stop or slow the boat as wind will feed the flames further.
  • Position the boat so the fire is downwind.
  • Head the bow to the wind if the fire is aft.
  • Position the stern to the wind if the fire is forward.
  • Turn off the fuel supply straight away if the motor catches on fire

Are you covered in the event of a fire?

We offer comprehensive marine insurance, which covers you in the instance of a fire outbreak (there are certain terms associated with this cover, but we will let you know).

Our goal is to ensure that you’re taken care of, if something unexpected does happen while you’re on the water or working in your marine business.

Ask us for a free quote and stay safe on the water.