The below is a first hand account of a fire onboard a boat and what they felt saved the boat.
The below is details of the fire equipment they had onboard that saved the boat and some planned additions.
Their hope is that by spreading the word more lives and boats can be saved.
- Most boats don’t tend to come with many fire extinguishers. Luckily, they chose to be well-equipped and had quite a few. It’s amazing how quickly even a large extinguisher runs out (less than 10 seconds). Maybe buy an extra one and check yours are in date
- Their smoke detector was in the centre of the engine room. The fire was in the corner by a vent. It took too long for the smoke to set the alarm off. They are now going to add additional smoke sensors in the corners
- They have 2 video cameras in their engine room. Unfortunately the fire, which started in a plug socket, was in a blind spot. They are adding 2 additional cameras
- They have 4 battery banks onboard. The isolators are next to each bank. This took too long to shut them all down. They plan to fit blue-sea remote battery isolators so the whole boat can be shut down from 1 switch on the bridge
- As electrical fires can occur in compartments other than the engine room, they plan to fit an additional 4 automatic fire extinguishers in high risk areas. Note - they didn’t use their automatic extinguisher in the engine room because the fire kept reigniting. They were also saving it as a very last resort, which luckily never materialised
- Their diving gear saved the boat. It gave them the ability to access the engine room and find the fire source. They plan to buy a set of breathing apparatus to keep outside the engine room along with extra high-powered torches
- Never underestimate the benefit of having fire drills onboard. Both owners have both undertaken short fire-fighting courses which proved to be invaluable. In particular make sure you know where all your emergency shut-offs are
- Remember - if you shut down your batteries due to fire your VHF and navigation equipment won’t work. They have a back up power source but hand-held radios will do the job
They have a bit of installing, fixing and cleaning left to do onboard, but all should be ship-shape again within a week. They were very lucky this time and hugely grateful for the assistance from Poole Lifeboat Station & Swanage Lifeboat Station RNLI. Please check your fire safety gear and plan for any eventuality! Share and spread the word! Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
A separate report in their local paper (Bournemouth Echo) quotes the owner (a boatbuilder):
“It looks like a pipe came loose from the port engine. It fell onto the live terminal of the starter motor. That sent 24v through the water pipes. This caused the water pump wiring to set fire.”