Fueling your boat carelessly can result in major bodily harm for people and pets. It can also harm the environment and be expensive to clean up. The following information addresses some of the most common issues regarding boat fires and pollution prevention.
Preventing Spills and Pollution
Prevent spills and reduce the environmental impact with these tips.
- Fuel ONLY at marine motor fuel-dispensing facilities. Fueling anywhere else on the lake is prohibited. See Minnesota Fire Code 2310.4.
- DO NOT top off your tank. Fuel expands as it warms up and can overflow in high heat.
- DO NOT prop a gas pump’s fuel trigger open or leave your watercraft unattended.
If there is a significant fuel spill, call 911 immediately. The quicker your report, the more effectively fire or other agency personnel can contain and recover the spill.
While some of the safety factors are the same as refueling an automobile, some additional safety precautions should be taken when refueling a boat. The following refueling safety tips will help prevent explosions and accidents.
- Remember that no passenger should remain in the boat while fueling. Re-board after refueling is complete and the engine has been started.
- Do not operate any electrical switches, chargers, or other electrical items while refueling or before the fumes dissipate.
- Prevent fumes from accumulating in other areas by keeping doors, ports, and hatches closed.
- When you finish fueling, wipe up spilled fuel and be sure to operate the boat’s blowers for several minutes to diffuse any lingering fumes.
- You may also open the hatch and smell the bilge area and any closed area for signs of fuel vapors before getting back out on the lake.
Regular Inspection & Maintenance
Many boat fires begin from electrical malfunctions. Potential problems include old wiring, faulty installation of a battery, or damage to a boat’s shore-power inlet. Regular inspection of engines for damage and timely replacement of critical parts could prevent a considerable amount of boat fires.
If Your Boat Catches Fire
If the size of the fire is beyond what a single portable extinguisher can put out, it is best to evacuate and call for professional firefighters. Your life is infinitely more valuable than your boat.
Fires are classified based on the material that is burning, and fire extinguishers are rated based on the class of fire that they are effective against. A Type ABC multipurpose fire extinguisher is effective against Class A, B, and C fires; having one on-board can help save time in an emergency by eliminating the need to determine the class of fire. Be sure that the extinguishers on your boat are within quick reach, inspected regularly, and replaced when necessary. For more information on fire extinguishers, visit BoatUS.org.
- Electrical Codes and Standards – Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry
- Fire Code – Minnesota Department of Public Safety
- National Fire Protection Association