Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is using Boat Fire Safety Week (25-31 May) to remind people who live or work on the water about the importance of working smoke alarms.
Although boat fires on inland waters are less common than fires on land, when they do occur, they can have devastating consequences – in recent years, there have been a number of fire deaths involving people on boats moored along the Kennet & Avon Canal.
In addition, national figures show that more than 60 boaters have been killed in the last 20 years as a result of a boat fire or carbon monoxide incident. CO poisoning is most likely to be caused by the exhaust emissions of portable generators, or problems with solid fuel stoves, including flue pipes.
Ian Hopkins, Prevention Delivery Manager for DWFRS, said: “We know that boats carry a very high fire risk, and it is vital that boaters do all they can to protect themselves. Firefighters and Safe & Well Advisors do travel along the towpaths when they can to raise awareness, but Boat Fire Safety Week is an opportunity for us to highlight the help available and hopefully reach as many people as possible.”
Boat visits have been limited by the current restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic, but boat safety packs are available at marinas along the canal and advice can also be given over the phone.
The Service is asking anyone who lives or works on a boat to:
- Fit smoke detectors, testing them regularly, and also install carbon monoxide alarms;
- Take care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders;
- Avoid using portable gas equipment on-board, where possible, and store all gas canisters in special gas lockers or open places where any leaks will flow overboard;
- Routinely check items such as battery terminals and fuse box connections for damaged strands or signs of overheating;
- Take care when doing repairs, and keep interiors well ventilated when using adhesives, paints and spirit-based products;
- Always keep an eye on solid fuel stoves when lit and don’t leave unattended; and
- Make sure you always know your exact location and nearest access point so that, in the event of any emergency, firefighters can get there as quickly as possible.