BlueSeas

Fire at Sea

Fire Safety

The Number #1 Rule in Fire Safety
"Prevention is Much Better than the Cure!"


Here Are Some Things You Should Know

But really don't care much about. Until of course; it happens to you.

Look, I get it, very few of us enjoy reading about safety topics and Fire Safety is probably no exception.

Hopefully, this article will not drive you to self-immolation or simply bore you to death. For some reason, it seems articles involving any safety topic tend to do that to just about everyone.

But, You Need to Man Up... Force yourself through the material. There might even be a tidbit or two of information in here that you didn't know, or could save your boat or maybe your life. On the other hand, if you happen to know all there is to know about Fire Safety in the marine environment, then simply think of this as a refresher.

What is Required for a Fire

A look at the Fire Tetrahedron below shows the elements required to start and maintain a fire.

Fire Tetrahedron

The four (4) elements (Oxygen, Heat, Fuel, and a Chemical Reaction) all must be present at the same time for a fire to exist.

Fire Prevention is based upon keeping at least (1) of these four elements of the fire tetrahedron separated from the others.

Removing any one of the above four elements will extinguish any fire.

Classes of Fires

While Fire Classifications vary somewhat around the world, the differences are pretty minor. However, the methods of fighting any particular class of fire remain pretty constant.

Class A and D fires are pretty much the same around the globe. Class B, C, and K fires have some differences depending on where you are.

In the United States and Canada

Class A Fires: Are fires in ordinary combustible solid materials, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics.

Class B Fires: Are fires in flammable liquids, combustible liquids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene, petroleum based grease, lubricating oils, oil based paints, solvents, varnishes, and flammable gases.

Class C Fires: Involve energized electrical circuits and equipment.

Class D Fires: Are fires in combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, lithium, and potassium.

Class K Fires: Are fires in cooking appliances that involve combustible cooking media (vegetable or animal oils and fats).

So why Class K?
What happened to Class E, F, G, H, I, and J in the U.S. and Canada?

In the United Kingdom and Europe

Class A Fires: Are fires in ordinary combustible solid materials, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics.

Class B Fires: Are fires in flammable liquids, combustible liquids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene, petroleum based grease, lubricating oils, oil based paints, solvents, and varnishes.

Class C Fires: Are fires that involve flammable gases.

Class D Fires: Are fires in combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, lithium, and potassium.

Electrical Fires: Involve energized electrical circuits and equipment.

Class F Fires: Are fires in cooking appliances that involve combustible cooking media (vegetable or animal oils and fats).

In Oceania (Australia & New Zealand)

Class A Fires: Are fires in ordinary combustible solid materials, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics.

Class B Fires: Are fires in flammable liquids, combustible liquids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene, petroleum based grease, lubricating oils, oil based paints, solvents, and varnishes.

Class C Fires: Are fires that involve flammable gases.

Class D Fires: Are fires in combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, lithium, and potassium.

Class E Fires: Involve energized electrical circuits and equipment.

Class F Fires: Are fires in cooking appliances that involve combustible cooking media (vegetable or animal oils and fats).

Common Fires Found Onboard Vessels

There are a lot of things that can cause a fire aboard a boat, but the list below are the most common culprits. (These figures are based upon Insurance claims provided by BoatUS.)

DC Electrical Fires account for ≈32% of vessel fires and are caused by problems with the 12 volt DC electrical system most often associated with the engine or batteries. With the large quantity flammable material typically located in the engine room these fires can become uncontrollable in a very short time frame.

Boats on Fire

Off Boat Sources accounting for ≈26% of all vessel fires do not even start on your boat. Nonetheless, your vessel being destroyed by fire originating from someone else's vessel or the marina/boatyard in which you are moored, is more frequent than you might think.

Boats on Fire
Marina Boat Fire - Quincy, MA PD

Nonetheless, your vessel being destroyed by fire originating from someone else's vessel or the marina/boatyard, is more frequent than you might think.

AC Electrical Fires are the 3rd most common cause accounting for ≈10% of boat fires. When you consider the luxuries (or necessities, depending on your point of view), such as air conditioning, refrigeration, water heaters, microwaves, battery chargers, etc. You have a large potential for a fire.

Factoring in the marine environment of moisture and corrosion with poor electrical connections and heat buildup from inadequate ventilation in confined spaces; fires can easily occur.

Engine Overheating ≈10% is another cause of fires in the engine room. These primarily start from cooling system failures. Engines can overheat quickly when not enough water circulates to keep the engine at proper operating temperature.

Boats on Fire
Engine Room Fire

Everything Else ≈21%.

Boats on Fire

While it is possible that any class of fire can occur aboard a vessel of any kind, statistics show that Class A, Class B, and Class C (Electrical in the UK & Europe or Class E in Oceania) fires are by far the more common occuring types.

Compass RoseComing Soon - Fire at Sea - Part II

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