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Old 06-06-2010, 06:14   #1
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Boat Fires

Just how common are boat fires? What is the primary cause/reason?

Carelessness, damaged or unsafe appliances/wiring/equipment, arson?
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:26   #2
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I've only had one in 5 years in trailer sailers. Cause - carelessness, stupidity & inexperience. Luckily it was a methanol fire, stove went out and I didn't appreciate the extent of the spill, relit and set fire to the galley top. Put it out with a fire blanket.
Much more careful now and since found out metho is easily put out with water. Only use gas in a camping stove which is kept in a cockpit locker, when its packed away supposedly it cannot leak.
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:27   #3
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We had a boat fire when I was a kid on our family boat. It was one of those metho (Alcohol) stoves where you light the puddle of liquid fuel. Stupid thing to have on a boat, of course.

I would have thought most boat fires would be started by someone deep frying and spilling the oil, or the pan slipping and spreading oil on the burner.

Only other thing I could think of that would actually happen often enough to guard against would be a short sparking some fuel in the engine bay.

Or lightening.


But I go the cooking fires most...


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Old 06-06-2010, 06:28   #4
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Dangerous+

I 'see' a couple every year in our area. I don't think they are really common but when you see the black smoke and hear the responders its pretty scarey. Last one was near Block Island. It was a working lobster boat and we along w a couple of other boats responded immediately...a cruiser arrieved first, stood by and while the crew extiguished it. I believe it [like most] started in the engine compartment. I always show and tell my guests where the fire extinguishers are. Its probably the most dangerous thing that can happen on a boat.

Gasoline too is a risk!
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:42   #5
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According to a study by BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, the leading causes of fires aboard vessels are AC & DC wiring problems, engine and transmission overheating, and fuel leaks.

Why Boats Catch Fire (BoatUS Seaworthy magazine)
1) AC and DC wiring/appliance 55%*
2) Engine/Transmission Overheat 24%
3) Fuel Leak 8%
4) Miscellaneous 7%
5) Unknown 5%
6) Stove 1%

* 1) AC and DC wiring/appliance 55% further breaks down thus:
DC shorts/wiring 30%
DC engine voltage regulator 12%
AC appliance/heater 4%
shore power 4%
AC wiring/panel 2%
DC battery charger 2%
AC power surge 1%


Goto ➥
http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/fire/default.asp
http :// www .boatus.com/seaworthy/fire/default.asp
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:44   #6
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I had a very sad email yesterday from my ex to say his boat was destroyed by fire last monday whilst in the marina. Im fairly sure it was in the water and he says he wasnt there. None of the marina guys were injured and no other boats were damaged.

For some reason, he suspects arson. He is very particular about disconnecting gas and shore power when away from the boat.

Im sure hes devastated by the loss of his home because its been his sanctuary for years, plus all the personal belongings like books.
We spent so many hours last fall doing winter maintenence, cutting back and polishing the hull, re rigging and painting masts and internal cosmetic work too.

Hes advising me to make sure I install an auto fire extinguishing system.

A very sad loss of a gorgeous yacht.
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:49   #7
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Thanks for that breakdown Gord.

It makes it all the more strange knowing that if he was away from the boat and everything was switched off and engine not running, what reasons could there be for the fire.
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:55   #8
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6) Stove 1%


Ooops.

I hate it when facts obliterate my post.

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Old 06-06-2010, 07:04   #9
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As Gord confirmed, wiring runs are the biggest danger of fire in a non-smoker’s boat.

I just spent this weekend in the ER going around tightening all the connectors and looking for chafe where they run to other parts of the boat.

Expansion and contraction of screw terminals often cause them to work loose over a couple of years causing even more heat, so wise to do periodic checks
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Old 06-06-2010, 07:19   #10
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I've been involved in 3 boat fires; two trying to out someone else's out and one on board my boat.

The fire on my boat started in the laundry where some wires burned through can caught the insulation and wood on fire. We survived thanks to a steel boat and quick response by the fire department.

The other 2 fires were started, as far as I know, by the same thing and one not on the list - bug bombs. In both cases the owners attempted "saturation bombing" of the boat in order to kill a rather persistent roach problem. The bombs come/came with a warning about the possibility of explosion and area/container limits. From what we were able to determine, the owners put several times the maximum number of bombs aboard, pulled the pins, and scooted. We think the gas or some content of the gas is explosive and a spark developed somewhere, and poof, the boat was on fire.

I have never seen a boat burn so furiously, with very noxious black smoke, and incredible heat. About all we could do was cut the lines and tow it out of the marina/mooring area. Both burned to the waterline and were complete losses.
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Old 06-06-2010, 07:39   #11
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Pelagic said
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As Gord confirmed, wiring runs are the biggest danger of fire in a non-smoker’s boat.
I'm curious where you find the reference to smokers here. I didn't find any mention of smokers in Gord's info or in the material he linked to.
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Old 06-06-2010, 07:44   #12
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... We think the gas or some content of the gas is explosive and a spark developed somewhere, and poof, the boat was on fire...
The propellants now* used in Bug Bombs (Total Release Insect Foggers) are flammable (often propane or butane).
* CFCs used to be used.
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Old 06-06-2010, 08:26   #13
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The only time I've ever used a fire extinguisher on a boat was on an alcohol stove.
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Old 06-06-2010, 08:45   #14
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Pelagic said

I'm curious where you find the reference to smokers here. I didn't find any mention of smokers in Gord's info or in the material he linked to.
No reference to smokers in Gord’s info… just personal experience.

I used to captain a 180 ft charter yacht in BC. We did salmon fishing tours in the summers where 28 guests would float plane into wherever we were to try and catch trophy sized salmon.

We flew our laundry in and out twice a week during changeovers and I asked the laundry company to always set aside and return cigarette burned pillow cases or sheets.

By the end of our 4 month season I would have hundreds of them and show a few at each new group’s safety and welcoming talk.

That is why , since then, I have enforced an avid no smoking rule on any commercial or super yacht I was in charge of.

If it was a smoker’s boat… not interested on being aboard!
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:09   #15
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We have had a couple chucklehaids attempt to empty their gas tanks with drill pumps.

I guess they don't read the labeles on the pumps....

I think I will send that to MYTHBUSTERS
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