Fire Service plea for boaters to stay safe this summer

That is why Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service is urging the many residential boat owners living on Oxfordshire’s waterways and those who rent leisure and house boats at this time of year, to think about fire safety this summer.

The warning comes during national Boat Safety Week, (25-31 May) which aims to highlight the importance of having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on boats.

Since the mid 1990’s, 30 people have been killed in boat fires and another 30 have died due to the ‘silent killer’ carbon monoxide.

The safety message, which forms part of the national Fire Kills campaign, is timed for the start of the boating season. Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service and the Boat Safety Scheme are asking local boat owners to make vital safety checks and learn more about fire and carbon monoxide risks to stay safe this summer.

They say owners should understand the risks, make regular, basic safety checks, and follow their engine and appliance operating guidelines, as the essential steps to deal with the fire and carbon monoxide threat.

The campaign stresses the importance of fitting smoke alarms – especially optical sensor alarms with hush buttons, sealed for life batteries and bearing  a British Standard ‘Kitemark’ or a LPCB ‘Horseshoe’ mark.

During Boat Fire Safety Week, fire fighters will be talking to boat owners in Oxford and Banbury handing out leaflets to alert people to the risks and help them protect themselves and their passengers.

David Heycock, Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service Home, Road and Community Safety Manager said: "With so much water around, there can be a tendency to think that there is a reduced risk of fire.  In fact, fires on boats can spread quickly and as boats are often in remote locations, it can take fire fighters longer to arrive at an incident.

“Smoke alarms can make a real difference to the outcome of fires on boats.  We want all boat users to be aware of the risks and want to see suitable smoke alarms installed in all boats with overnight accommodation.”

"Anyone in doubt about the alarm they need should contact us on 08000 325999. We are here to help people  make sure their  boats are as fire safe as possible."

Fire safety tips for boaters

Test your alarm weekly if you live on your boat or every time you board your boat if you don’t.

Have at least one fire extinguisher, which you should put near the boat exit

  • Make sure the cooker is not left unattended
  • Always keep an eye on a solid fuel stove when it’s lit. Try to avoid leaving the boat with the stove running
  • Make sure furnishings and foam insulation are ‘fire-retardant’, which means they don’t catch fire easily
  • Make sure you know the contact details of the local Fire and Rescue Service
  • Take extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders
  • Avoid using portable gas equipment on-board, where possible, and store all gas canisters in special gas lockers or open places where any leaks will flow overboard
  • Check battery terminals and fuse box connections routinely for damaged strands or signs of overheating
  • Take care when doing repairs, and keep interiors well ventilated when using adhesives, paints and spirit based products