■ Make sure you and your crew know
the location of shutoff valves and
switches for electrical, fuel, and LPG
or CNG systems.
When planning emergency action
items and escape routes, physically walk
through them to confirm they actually
work. If your evening meal goes up in
smoke, can you reach the remote solenoid
shutoff for the stove LPG system without
having to reach over the flames? Is that
forward cabin hatch actually large enough
to fit through in the event of a fire? Can
it be opened with the dinghy stored on
deck? These are the type of questions you
want to ask before staking your life on
Review your boat’s fire safety plan
with guests prior to getting underway,
and hold fire drills regularly to ensure
everyone knows what to do in the event
of an emergency. Post simple instructions
and provide training on operation of
VHF radios and how to determine vessel
location (reading coordinates from a
chartplotter, for example). Explain how
to use your fire extinguishers.
If You Face A Fire
Depending on its size, if a fire occurs while
in a marina, it may be best to evacuate
the boat, dial 911, and let professional
firefighters handle it. Remember, fire
extinguishers are small, quick fixes. If you
can’t put out the fire with one extinguisher
(two at the most), get out.
For fires away from the dock, you’ll
have to be more self-reliant, as evacuation
will be more difficult and assistance
likely longer in coming. Your response
when dealing with an onboard fire while
anchored or underway will ultimately
MORE ON SMOKE ALARMS
Choosing to have a smoke alarm on your boat is a good idea, giving you precious early warning that you have a fire aboard, or perhaps warning your neighbor in the next slip if your boat is unattended at the marina. However,
it’s important to know that there are no UL-Marine approved devices on the market.
Until the American Boat & Yacht Council requires them, which it’s working on now
(see page 40), manufacturers are reluctant to invest in the expensive certifications
required to make them.
In the meantime, smoke alarms from the RV industry are a good second choice.
Those made for the rugged RV market meet many of the future marine standards,
and are more robust than the residential units found in stores, which are not designed
to withstand the marine environment. (If you use a residential unit, it’s important to
test it monthly, check it for corrosion, and replace it every couple of years.)
Install alarms in sleeping and cooking areas as well as in engine rooms. Note
that while smoke alarms have gotten much better at reducing false alarms, burning
the toast will still set them off. Xintex makes a range of devices for detecting fires,
including remote alarms that can notify the helmsman of a fire in engine spaces.
— CHARLES FORT
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