News release text
As part of Boat Fire Safety Week (26-30 May), firefighters are urging owners and those involved in activities on Kent’s waterways to check their craft is ship shape and fire safe.
Boating is hugely popular in Kent and Medway due to its wonderful coastal position and number of inland waterways but people often don’t realise the risks involved and, while boat fires and other water related incidents remain quite low, the outcome can be very serious.
Maidstone Station Manager Mark Woodward, said: “There are many potential fire risks aboard and it’s vital to take all the necessary precautions to keep your boat safe, especially if you live or sleep on it.
“We had a close call earlier this month in Maidstone where a faulty LPG cylinder on a boat exploded after coming into contact with the flame from a cooking hob. Luckily no-one was hurt but it just shows how easily mistakes can happen when you’re afloat.”
In 2013, crews attended four fires on privately owned vessels, including one in Wateringbury where a man suffered burns to his hands and face following a fire in the engine compartment of a 13 foot open boat.
Mark added: “We strongly recommend that smoke alarms are fitted and tested regularly to give valuable early warning in the event of a fire, allowing you to escape before the fire spreads throughout the vessel.
“It’s also vital that you have a practiced escape plan too and that you know your location, should you need to alert the emergency services”.
The following basic fire safety precautions should be followed:
Smoke Alarms – You need to have a fitted and working smoke alarm.
·Carbon Monoxide and Gas Detectors – These are necessary when using gas and solid fuel burners.
·Fuel – Only carry spare fuel if necessary. This should be stored on-deck in a self-draining locker. Never re-fuel near naked flames or with engines running.
Gas – Ensure appliances are properly fitted, with cylinders stored secure and upright
Electrics – Ensure all systems are professionally fitted and turn off as much as possible when not on board.
Fires, Heaters and Cooking Appliances – Never leave unattended when lit. Ensure flues are kept clear and the appliance well secured to a fireproof bulkhead.
Insurance - Your boat should be fully insured and documents kept in a fire-proof container, or ashore if possible.