Handling a fire on board your boat
Even if you’ve taken every possible precaution to prevent a fire on board your boat, you should know what to do in case the unthinkable happens.
When a fire breaks out on board, your first consideration should be the safety of your passengers and crew.
Take immediate action
- Notify the crew and tell them the fire’s location. Make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket, and instruct them to go to an unaffected portion of the boat, usually toward the wind.
- If you still have power, turn the boat to prevent the wind from blowing the fire into the occupied area.
- Place an immediate mayday call to the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16 or using Digital Selective Calling. You can always notify the Coast Guard later if a mayday situation no longer exists.
- Turn off all fuel supplies, including engine, galley stove and heaters.
- Disconnect all electrical power sources.
Put out a fire on board
Find the fire’s source and give yourself a retreat path before putting out the fire with fire extinguishers. Choose the correct fire extinguisher; you can make a fire worse by using the wrong type of extinguisher.
Practice using your fire extinguisher before an emergency, so you don’t have to read the label during a fire.
Remember to PASS the fire extinguisher when fighting a fire on board.
P Pull the safety pin, usually located around the handle of the extinguisher.
A Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire.
S Squeeze the handle and to discharge the extinguisher.
S Sweep the extinguisher side to side while aiming at the base of the fire until the fire is out.
Monitor the burned area for potential re-ignition.
- If you have the slightest doubt about whether you can put out the fire, don’t even try.
- If the fire is near engines and fuel or in case of an explosion, get everyone into life jackets, off the boat and as far away as possible.
If a fire occurs on board a personal watercraft, stop immediately, leave the craft and swim as far away as possible.