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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Stay Safe Afloat

19/04/2013

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is again urging boat users to be aware of dangers afloat after a narrowboat was gutted in a fire caused by an electrical fault.

“Fire safety is vitally important on a boat because whilst fires on inland waters are less common than those on land, they can have devastating consequences. Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access, which may mean firefighters take longer to reach the incident. Consequently a fire may have longer to take hold and could totally destroy a boat and everything on-board.”

Watch Manager Paul Danby from Brewood Fire Station

No one was onboard the boat which was moored at Wheaton Aston. A fire investigation has shown the cause was due to a loose battery terminal.

Emergency services were alerted at 8am today and firefighters from Brewood and Penkridge and the Service’s water team from Tamworth were called to the scene.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled the fire using hose reel jets and one main jet, and foam compound was used to extinguish blazing diesel fuel within the boat. Crews also had to deal with two propane gas cylinders on board.

Watch Manager Paul Danby, of Brewood Community Fire Station said: “Crews were concerned about the environmental impact on the canal infrastructure. We used approximately 50 litres of foam concentrate to deal with diesel fuel on fire beneath the flooring of the boat and on the surface of water inside the boat, but it was contained and no water in the canal was contaminated.”

The Canal and River Trust attended the scene and has confirmed no canal water was contaminated during the incident. Fire crews left the scene shortly before mid-day.

He added: “Fire safety is vitally important on a boat because whilst fires on inland waters are less common than those on land, they can have devastating consequences. Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access, which may mean firefighters take longer to reach the incident. Consequently a fire may have longer to take hold and could totally destroy a boat and everything on board.”

Advice on keeping safe afloat includes:

  • Ensuring boats undergo safety tests, legally required every four years.
  • Fitting a suitable smoke alarm and, where appropriate, a carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Ensuring flues are cleared to allow fumes to escape freely to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Making a fire action plan.
  • Taking extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders.
  • Avoiding the use of portable gas equipment onboard, where possible, and storing all gas canisters in special gas lockers, or open places where any leaks will flow overboard.
  • Checking battery terminals and fuse box connections routinely for damaged strands or signs of overheating.
  • Taking care when doing repairs, and keeping interiors well ventilated when using adhesives, paints and spirit-based products.
  • Ensuring the installation of gas appliances and wood burning stoves is carried out by a competent person.
  • Keeping a close watch on a solid fuel stove when in use and whenever possible not leaving the boat unattended if the stove is lit.
  • Ensuring candles and smoking materials are used in well-ventilated areas - and are disposed of safely.
  • Know your location at all times so should an emergency occur, rescue services are not delayed by searching.

Boaters wanting free fire safety advice from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service can call Freephone 0800 0241 999 to book a FREE Boat Fire Risk Check. For more information on boat fire safety visit www.boatsafetyscheme.com