Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Fire or Smoke

This is one in a series of A Guide to Narrow Boat Problems.

Fire or Smoke
Causes include engine problem, wood stove, gas cooker, electrical or general domestic reasons.
Evacuate first and foremost. Life is more important than a boat.
Alert adjacent boats if possible to prevent fire spread.
If safe to do so, turn off fuel, gas, electrics at source.
The cause will dictate the solution - whether water (only for paper and wood fires), dry powder fire extinguisher (for solids, liquids and gases) CO2 fire extinguisher (for electrical fires) or to use fire blanket to smother flames.
If the cause is electrical, power must be turned off before acting further.
If it is safe to remove a burning or smoking item hold it at arm's length and walk carefully backwards (so flames are away from you as you move) and drop (don't throw) into water. Opening doors and windows can increase flames rather than disperse smoke.
Have main fuel tap and gas supply clearly marked so they can be turned off in an emergency. Install gas, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors - and check them regularly. Have appropriate fire extinguisher(s) clearly positioned safely near most likely sources of fire - eg near the engine room though not in it. Check dates and replace when they expire.
Ensure door on wood stove is a good seal with rope in good condition. Ensure stove flue is in good condition especially where it joins the stove. Keep inflammable materials well away from stove. Keep fire blanket readily available.
Have gas pipes and devices checked by a qualified gas fitter. Switch off gas at the bottle when not in use. Keep gas cylinders outside the boat in ventilated lockers. If working with an external mains appliance such as an electric drill always use an RCD (residual current device) circuit breaker to prevent electrical shocks and always use appropriate fuses.
Don't use candles or cigarettes in the boat. Avoid food using inflammable fats. On older boats especially check foam on beds and soft furnishings to ensure they are flame retardant.

Ensure you have an evacuation procedure and that exits are clear.

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