Recreational Marine Fire Safety

Recreational Marine Fire Safety

Marine fire safety for better boating 

Good weather brings boating craft of all types out onto the waters in South Australia.

To enjoy safe boating, it is important to plan ahead and consider a range of simple fire safety measures.

Boat users should take the following precautions:

  • Before starting the engine check fuel lines and connections for leaks
  • Refuel approved portable tanks on shore, NOT in the boat
  • Secure spare fuel in a safe place on board
  • Allow room for expansion in the fuel tank and wipe up any spillage immediately
  • Remove all rags and materials containing flammable products and place them in a sealed metal container
  • When refuelling make sure all sources of ignition are removed, the engine is cool and all power is off
  • Thoroughly ventilate the boat after fuelling, before switching on power or starting an engine
  • On petrol inboard vessels, ensure that bilge blowers are activated before starting any engine. NB Flammable vapours are heavier than air and will accumulate in lower parts of a vessel
  • Install proper ventilation in fuel compartments
  • Carry a fire extinguisher on board at all times and keep in a readily accessible location
  • Store emergency flares in a waterproof container and use strictly to manufacturer's operating instructions
  • Make sure personal flotation devices are readily accessible if required
  • Use only approved marine stoves on board. Turn off gas at the cylinder after use
  • Any vessel on which people sleep should have a smoke alarm installed and checked regularly to ensure correct operation
  • When using launching ramps, parking areas, or sailing on rivers, make sure that the mast and all parts of the rigging remain clear of overhead power lines
  • Keep your first aid kit fully stocked and stored in a dry readily accessible location.

Fire Extinguishers

A general-purpose dry powder extinguisher will extinguish most small fires on boats. The extinguisher should be shaken occasionally to prevent the powder compacting.

The size and number of extinguishers will vary according to the size of the vessel. The minimum safety requirements are:

  • Powered vessel under eight metres in length - one dry powder fire extinguisher;
  • Powered vessel eight to fifteen metres in length - two dry powder fire extinguishers.

If there is a fire on board:

  • STOP the boat immediately to prevent moving air from fanning the flames.
  • DON Personal Floatation Devices.
  • CLOSE all hatches, vents and ports, to reduce the oxygen supply in confined spaces, if safe to do so.
  • DIRECT your dry powder fire extinguisher at the flames. Fight fire only if safe to do so.
  • NEVER allow the fire to get between you and the cabin exit.

For further information obtain a copy of Recreational Boating Safety Handbook available from Transport SA.


Download the PDF English version of this Home Fire Safety Information Sheet

For further advice ring the Community Safety & Resilience Department 8204 3611, Country callers 1300 737 637


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or call in to            99 Wakefield Street, Adelaide during business hours.