be determined by existing conditions
(type of fire, location, etc.). However, in
general, one of the first steps should be
notifying the Coast Guard utilizing
VHF Channel 16. Letting someone
know you’re in trouble sooner
rather than later gives rescue
agencies (or good Samaritans
nearby) a quicker response time
should assistance be needed. Once
contact is established, pass crucial
information as quickly as possible
(location, type and size of vessel,
number of people on board, boat
name, etc) as there might not
be a second chance should the
fire knock out your electronics
(another reason to have a
handheld VHF fully charged at
If the fire occurs while
underway, stop the boat, paying
attention to your surroundings,
while maneuvering to avoid
other vessels, to the extent
possible. If the fire is in the
engine room, one of the worst
things to do is the first thing
everyone wants to do: open up the
compartment to see what’s going on.
Don’t do it. You’ll only provide additional
oxygen, which can turn a smoldering fire
into an abandon-ship-type conflagration.
It can also overcome you with fumes.
The best way to fight an engine-room fire is having an appropriately
sized, clean-agent automatic extinguisher
system mounted within the engine
compartment. “Automatic” is a key word
here, but there should also be a manual
discharge control located outside the
engine compartment (normally at
the helm) so that the unit can be
immediately discharged in the
event you or a crewmember
become aware of a fire before
the auto-release mechanism
If you don’t have an
system, fire ports should be
installed to fight engine fires.
These are small ports or
Coming In October!
openings that allow you to
discharge a portable, clean-
agent fire extinguisher (such
as Halotron) directly into the engine
room without opening hatches or access
your fire port is big
enough to accept
nozzle, can be opened
or accessed from
outside the engine
is located so that
the portable fire
extinguisher can be
If you enjoy reading about real-world
boating lessons, such as this Seaworthy
story on how to fight fires aboard, we
have great news! Starting with the
October issue, the entire Seaworthy
newsletter will be published in BoatU.S.
Magazine and go out to all our
members six times a year. This is yet
another way we’re looking out for your well
being and for the safety of your boat and
systems. — The Editors
In An Emergency,
The typical manual fire extinguisher
works by following these four steps:
1. P: PULL the safety pin.
2. A: AIM the extinguisher at the
base of the fire.
3. S: SQUEEZE the handle.
4. S: SWEEP the hose from side to
side while discharging.
For more on
fire extinguishers, see
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