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Old 15-07-2013, 16:23   #1
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What Causes More Boat Fires?

I've become more aware of how many boat fires there are each year lately. Seems as though everytime I turn around there's a boat on fire either on the news or on the internet forums.... I wonder what causes the most boat fires... propane or electrical? Where might that data be found?
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Old 15-07-2013, 16:29   #2
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

I've never had a fire on my sailboat, but when I was in the navy on submarines it seemed sometimes that we had a "fire" every week (mid watch when I was on watch). It 95+% of the time was electrical due to a motor or breaker "catching fire". I say "catching fire" because it always made a lot of smell and sometimes smoke but never was a real fire because the breaker would trip.

For this reason when electrical things stop operating properly I start checking electrical connections as a fire is the next stage.

PS - I just remebered that I have had this on my sailboat. It was when the engine start button stuck and I noticed because I could smell it. In this cased the starter burned up before the breaker tripped , but it didn't catch on fire because I turned the key off first.
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Old 15-07-2013, 16:48   #3
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

Had a solinoid with welded contacts on the anchor winch that kept heating things up as the cct breaker reset its self. Answer was to put an alarm (reversing truck type) across the terminals. Could have developed bad.

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Old 15-07-2013, 16:51   #4
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

electrical...I'm pretty sure...you can check with BoatUS Foundation or USCG ir really concerned/interested.

Not really that many boats have propane...wonder if they can separate out commercial stats as there might be a higher percentage there....then again many comms have gensets these days.
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:03   #5
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

I was on the hard in Myrtle Beach this spring and an aluminum sport fisher literally exploded and burnt the thing almost to the ground. I was about 50yds away on my boat and felt the concussive force of the blast. Blown out windows on nearby boats. Huge fireball until the FD got there. The feds were flown in with a bomb sniffing robot and, though I did not hear what the determination was (insurance, underworld dispute??), there was no propane on-board and it had a diesel engine..

Anyway, watching a metal boat burn to the ground definitely made me think twice about the integrity of the propane and electrical systems on my FG boat..
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:27   #6
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

DC wiring in the emgine compartment according to BoatUS
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:33   #7
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I've become more aware of how many boat fires there are each year lately. Seems as though everytime I turn around there's a boat on fire either on the news or on the internet forums.... I wonder what causes the most boat fires... propane or electrical? Where might that data be found?

Your insurance company would know, but I would think it would be electrical. I say that because the propane units are confined and even regulated, but most boats are a maze of wires.
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:35   #8
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

The previous owner of my boat installed a cigarette-lighter style 12V outlet. On investigation, it was wired with 18 gauge wire, directly to the house bank. Not a fuse or breaker in sight.

That's where my fire would have started.
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:40   #9
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

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I wonder what causes the most boat fires... propane or electrical? Where might that data be found?


Let's place the blame accurately for fires.

Actually, people who don't know, who "think" they know, whodon't bother to learn or properly maintain and who do dumb things on their elec systems cause the most fires.
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:50   #10
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BOATUS put out a book called Seaworthy. In it, they provided information on various boat safety issues, based on the data collected from their insurance claims. I don't have it with me right now, but I think the most prevalent cause of boat fires was 12 volt systems. Again, operating from memory, locked rotors in bilge pumps was a major source.
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Old 15-07-2013, 17:51   #11
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

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Let's place the blame accurately for fires.

Actually, people who don't know, who "think" they know, whodon't bother to learn or properly maintain and who do dumb things on their elec systems cause the most fires.
Absolutely correct.
People cause fires.
Other than perhaps lightning and volcanos, almost all fires are caused by careless humans.
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Old 15-07-2013, 18:06   #12
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Re: What causes more boat fires?

I think it has to be Insurance, surely?
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Old 15-07-2013, 18:16   #13
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Re: What Causes More Boat Fires?

Indeed, people cause fires. Most all boating incidents are caused by people.

I heard NZ is not going to allow any people on boats going offshore to reduce the cost of rescue operations as they are too dangerous to have onboard.






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Old 15-07-2013, 18:21   #14
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Re: What Causes More Boat Fires?

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Indeed, people cause fires. Most all boating incidents are caused by people.

I heard NZ is not going to allow any people on boats going offshore to reduce the cost of rescue operations as they are too dangerous to have onboard.






An astute observation indeed.
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Old 15-07-2013, 18:34   #15
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Re: What Causes More Boat Fires?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I've become more aware of how many boat fires there are each year lately. Seems as though everytime I turn around there's a boat on fire either on the news or on the internet forums.... I wonder what causes the most boat fires... propane or electrical? Where might that data be found?
flammable objects cause all fires.
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