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Boating Fire Safety

Most marina fires start aboard an individual boat. Many of the common fire prevention tips for homes also apply to boats.

When choosing a marina, check around for fire protective measures such as fire extinguishers, cleanliness, clear dock passageways, security, good lighting, etc. If you don't feel safe, take your boat and your business elsewhere.

Boat owners must take responsibility for preventing fires on their boats and in the marina. The most common causes of boat fires are:

  • Electrical malfunctions
  • Unattended portable heaters
  • Poor housekeeping

Cord Sets

  • Use Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) marine-approved cord sets and connections.
  • Do not hook up if you see burn marks or your cord set will not firmly connect.
  • Routinely replace cord sets. Worn or overloaded cord sets and damaged shore power connections are a common cause of fires.

Electrical and Fuel Systems

  • Regularly inspect electrical and fuel systems. Have a professional upgrade the wiring to maintain the needs of your navigational equipment and other appliances.
  • Never leave operating electrical equipment, including heaters, unattended. When leaving your boat for any reason, turn portable heaters off.

Smoke Alarms and Escape Plan

Boat on Fire
  • Smoke alarms are important life-saving devices and should be installed in your boat.
  • Plan your escape. Having an escape plan can save your life in an emergency.

General Safety

  • Have a United States Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher onboard and know how to use it. Fire extinguishers should be mounted near an exit so you are moving toward an exit as you access the extinguisher.
  • Do your part to keep the dock clean and clear. Don't leave engine parts, tools, or other equipment on the dock.
  • Properly dispose of oily rags in metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Leaving oily rags wrapped up in a grocery sack is not safe. The chemicals will begin to breakdown the rags, causing heat and, possibly, a fire..

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Jonathan Jones,   State Fire Marshal
141 Monticello Trail, Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 896-9800 | Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. | Monday - Friday except State Holidays