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.
Stay safe on the water
Learn how to handle common emergencies while underway. Take our Emergencies on Board seminar to keep yourself and your crew safe.