Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Checks for the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS)

The Boat Safety Scheme, or BSS, is a public safety initiative owned by the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency.  Its purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions, or pollution on the inland waterways. It's your boat's MOT and needs renewal every four years.
It is separate from the winterising process; from the normal checks for corrosion, rot and flaking paint; from regular engine maintenance and from regular cleaning of the water supply.

In preparation for Patience's BSS examination we compiled a list of checks we would make beforehand. The list of items on the certificate is lengthy and the list on their website is lengthy and comprehensive but I thought this ten point summary, though specific to our narrow boat, might be helpful.

  • LPG Gas. Possibly the most important. This can be checked frequently using an installed bubble tester which is more effective than a gas detector. Check condition of gas lines from gas container (which should be protected and sit firmly in the gas locker, which should in turn be secure and drained) to final appliance. Check shut off valve. More here.
  • Fire Extinguishers. Three in number, in good condition, accessible and near fire risk points. Plus a fire blanket.
  • Appliances. Refrigerator, cooker and hob, solid fuel stove. In good working order with appropriate flues and ventilation.
  • Vents. Clear. Including low level vents in doors and high level roof "mushrooms".
  • Fuel. Filling points, lines and connections must be secure with no leaks. Feel under each line for corrosion. Any extra fuel should be in secured jerrycans.
  • Engine and gearbox. Check for leaks. Replace bilge mat. Mop up leaks and ensure none escapes to the water outside.
  • Solid fuel stove. Flue and firebox in good condition (no leaks from above, no gaps in seals). Area clear of inflammable materials. 
  • Electrical systems. Batteries stored securely and cables in good condition. Fuses and circuit breakers functioning. Outlets in good condition.
  • Emergency escape. Ensure access to exits is uncluttered and that owners have agreed an action plan.
  • Detectors. We also checked our carbon monoxide, gas and smoke detectors.

And after that how did we do? Well, we passed successfully, but we will, of course, continue to take care, and put safety above all things. A four-year safety check helps to remind you of the importance of the maintenance of safety at all times.

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