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Boat fire safety

Boat fire safety is an important and challenging issue to tackle. In reality, it's equally challenging whether you're using commercial marine vehicles or boats for personal use. In fact, fire hazards are more common on boats than many people assume. In the UK, 89 fire-related boat accidents or injuries occur every year. We must be appropriately prepared for a fire when sailing on the water.

Many of the fire hazards on boats are unique to that environment. At Fire Protection Shop, we’re dedicated to providing you with the correct fire safety products, no matter your environment. Our marine fire safety products are high-quality, reliable and highly effective.

Boat fire statistics

As mentioned above, every year, there are 89 fire-related accidents and injuries on boats. Additionally, fires on privately owned boats result in at least 3 deaths each year.

Fire hazards aboard boats

Difficulties of extinguishing fires on boats

Firstly, it’s worth noting that many areas of a boat are very challenging to extinguish. For example, areas like the boat's engine compartment. Due to the compact size of these compartments, reaching and tackling a fire is extremely difficult. However, in these instances, automatic fire extinguishers are your best choice.

Automatic fire extinguishers are extremely useful for boat fires. They utilise a heat-sensitive bulb which when burst, will expel the extinguishing agent over the fire. This refuses oxygen to enter the space, therefore extinguishing the fire.

Fire hazards

There are various fire hazards present on boats. In particular, boats will typically have:

  • Flammable liquids, including fuel, oil and propane.

  • Electrical equipment. On most boats, electricals will bring a multitude of fire hazards.

  • Cooking facilities present a fire risk due to the presence of hot oils and fats.

All of these fire hazards should encourage extra fire safety precautions. Some boat fire safety products are essential, whereas others are highly recommended. For example, with cooking fires, we recommend the presence of a fire blanket. Often this is the best way to tackle small Class F fires.

Choosing your boat fire extinguishers

Choosing a fire extinguisher for your boat? There are requirements you need to be aware of. Depending on the size of your boat, we can dictate the number of fire extinguishers you will need. For example:

  • A boat of up to 7m requires 2 fire extinguishers with a combined fire rating of 10A/89B.

Additionally, the number of extinguishers required also depends on another factor. Whether the boat has an engine or contains any cooking, heating, or fuel-burning appliances on board.

  • A small, open boat with no cooker or engine only requires a single 5A/34B rated fire extinguisher.

No matter how many extinguishers you need on your boat, they should always be correctly stored.


Many fire extinguishers are designed to be mounted on the wall. This ensures that they don’t move around during transit. You should also ensure that you keep fire extinguishers away from engines and fuel tanks. Lastly, when choosing a place to store your fire extinguishers, avoid the water! Salt water, can cause corrosion which reduces their lifespan.

Which fire extinguishers are right for boats?

Dry powder fire extinguishers

When fighting fires on a boat, you need to consider versatility. Given that dry powder fire extinguishers are known for being multi-purpose, they are extremely versatile. A dry powder fire extinguisher is extremely effective at fighting Class A, B and C fires. They are also able to tackle electrically started fires.

CO2 fire extinguishers

Modern boats will often use electronic equipment. With electrical fires being a fire risk, we suggest carrying CO2 fire extinguishers. These fire extinguishers use CO2 to displace oxygen. This separates the fire from the fuel source.

CO2 fire extinguishers are typically very compact, making them easy to store. In addition, CO2 fire extinguishers can tackle Class B fires resulting from flammable liquids. A classification of fire that is common on boats and other marine environments.

Automatic fire extinguishers

Some areas of your boat, such as in the engine compartment, are difficult to access regularly. Fires in these areas are often impossible to reach in time. When you discover a fire in an engine compartment, it's often too late to prevent serious damage. That’s why automatic fire extinguishers are invaluable in marine environments.

FireShield automatic fire extinguishers feature a heat-sensitive bulb. When that bulb reaches the target temperature, it breaks and triggers the fire extinguisher. By focusing on engine heat, the fire can be extinguished before it has the chance to even get started.

Wheeled fire extinguishers

On board large marine vehicles, you may well need additional firefighting power. Maybe more than a portable fire extinguisher can provide. This is especially true on large ships and oil rigs. In this case, a wheeled fire extinguisher is an extremely effective solution.

Our FireShield wheeled fire extinguishers are large enough to tackle industrial-sized fires but their trollies allow them to be easily used by a single person. For large boats and ships, a MED-certified, wheeled dry powder fire extinguisher is an essential piece of fire safety equipment.

MED and MRS Approval

MED, or Marine Equipment Directive, is a set of standards created by the EU to regulate the performance and quality of marine-based equipment. When you’re in open water, you need to be certain of the reliability and effectiveness of your fire safety solutions.

Marine fire extinguishers in the UK are also required to be compliant with the MRS, or Merchant Shipping Regulations, a new directive that came into place when Great Britain exited the European Union. The MRS requires the same stringent quality standards to be met as the MED.

The fire risks present on marine vehicles are significant enough that you need to be sure that your fire safety equipment always functions correctly. If your fire extinguishers are the wrong size or don’t contain a medium approved for use on marine equipment can present a serious risk to your safety.

These certifications allow you to be sure that your extinguishers and other equipment meet the highest possible standards of performance and reliability, as well as ensure that they are correctly suited to the specific needs of boats, ships, and other marine vehicles.

Our boat fire extinguishers are MED and MRS certified, providing you with total peace of mind, knowing that your fire safety equipment is fully compliant with maritime standards and is right for your needs.

Boat fire blankets

In any environment, a fire blanket can be a life-saving addition to your fire safety procedures, and marine environments are no exception. Fire blankets are made of durable, flame-retardant materials and function by smothering the fire, starving it of oxygen and preventing it from spreading.

Fire blankets are stored in convenient, compact cases that are easy to store and can be quickly deployed in an emergency. No matter what kind of fire extinguisher you use on your boat, you should always have access to a fire blanket.


Q. How many fire extinguishers do I need on my boat? Open

A. The number of fire extinguishers required for your boat will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the boat and the types of fire hazards present.

Q. What are the most common causes of boat fires? Open

A. Boat fires can commonly be caused by electrical faults, fuel-related issues, overheating engines, and improper use of flammable materials.

Q. Can I use water to extinguish a boat fire? Open

A. It is generally not recommended that you use water to attempt to extinguish a fire on a boat. Many boat fires involve electrical equipment or flammable liquid, both of which are extremely dangerous if tackled with water.

Q. Where should I store my boat fire extinguisher? Open

A. Your fire extinguishers should be mounted securely on wall brackets near to high-risk areas. You should ensure that you don’t obstruct any walkways and keep your extinguishers away from heat sources.