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Boating Fire Safety

Operators of boats should be aware of the various regulations governing the safety of life at sea and must comply with these.

These regulations, including the minimum requirements for all safety equipment, are on the Marine Safety Victoria website. Part of the minimum safety equipment requirements for boating in Victoria relates specifically to the number of fire extinguishers on board a vessel.

While having the stipulated number and type of fire extinguishers on board complies with the regulations. The following advice will help ensure the correct use and maintenance of extinguishers.

Siting

Secure extinguishers in a visible position close to, but not on top of, the risk areas they are placed to protect. For example, the extinguisher in the galley should not be mounted on a bulkhead too close to the stove - if a stove fire occurs the extinguisher may be unreachable, similarly with fuse boards or engine compartments.

Operation

Fire extinguishers are designed for small fires - familiarize yourself with the use of fire extinguishers before any fire occurs.

  • Ensure that you know that the extinguisher will operate (check gauge or weight, invert dry powder extinguishers and shake to loosen the powder).
  • Read the instructions regarding how to release the safety pin.
  • Know which way to point it and its range.
  • Know the types of fires it can be used on.

If a fire occurs the extinguishers must be used instantly.

If you are delayed by looking for the extinguisher, reading the instructions, extracting it from layers of plastic or from under the life jackets, the fire which is continuing to grow may be too large for the extinguisher.

Other quick safety tips include

  • Do not allow people to remain on your boat while refuelling (Regulation 91, 2012).
  • Ensure adequate ventilation and no ignition sources whilst fuelling (including allowing motors to cool down).
  • Turn off LPG cylinders at the cylinder when appliances are not in use.
  • Maintain electrical equipment (a significant cause of fires on vessels).
  • Ventilate battery compartments adequately.
  • Install a fire blanket close to galley areas.

Note: flammable vapours are heavier than air and accumulate in the lower parts of a vessel

Smoke alarms

It is recommended you install a dual sensor carbon monoxide and smoke alarm on all vessels where people sleep.

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Safety Tip

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council (AFAC) recommends monthly testing of smoke alarms to ensure they are working correctly.

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Only working Smoke Alarms save lives.

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