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Pleasure boat fire safety visits 22 July 2008

Danny Dooley carries out boat safety checkTHE Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service is calling on pleasure boat owners to ensure they stay safe at sea.

Community fire officers have stressed that safety guidelines are just as important out on the water as they are in the home, workplace or countryside. And with increased activity over the summer months, pleasure boaters are being urged to take advantage of expert advice.

The free home safety visits carried out by the Fire Service extend to boats, with information provided about the use of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers as well as the safe storage of items such as batteries, fuel and gas cylinders. The Isle of Man Service focuses a lot of attention on prevention and protection measures and the boat visits form an important part of its overall summer safety campaign.

Community officers will go on board vessels at the request of the owners and highlight any risks posed by potential fire hazards. Assessments are carried out in a friendly and informative way. Officers are not there to be critical, but to pass on knowledge that could help to save lives.

Station Officer Carl Kinvig said:

‘As an island we have always had an affinity with the sea and pleasure boating in Manx waters seems to become more popular each year. There are dangers associated with this popular pastime – one of them being the risk of an onboard fire. However, this can be minimised by taking some simple safety steps.’

Leading Firefighter Danny Dooley, one of the officers who conduct the free visits, added:

‘Depending on the size of the boat it is a good idea to fit a smoke detector, in a cabin or cuddy for example. Attention can easily be distracted when at sea and a fire, especially in a fibreglass boat, can spread extremely quickly. A minimum of one extinguisher and one fire blanket should be kept onboard - located near to the cabin exit and readily available.’

Boat owners are also urged to ensure that any furnishings are fire retardant and that all wiring is properly insulated. Batteries should be ventilated to prevent a build-up of fumes and fuel stored in approved containers with quantities kept to a minimum.

Additional precautions must be taken when refuelling at sea, such as turning off the boat’s engine and extinguishing any cigarettes or naked flames. Although the risk is small, mobile phones can be a source of ignition and it is always prudent to switch them off while refuelling takes place.

Advice will also be offered about the safe storage of gas cylinders and the dangers relating to low-lying LPG vapours. In addition to promoting their own initiatives, fire officers work in partnership with the IoM Coastguard to stage safety presentations for members of Island yacht clubs. And the RNLI also plays a prominent role by distributing ‘Safety At Sea’ literature which includes a DVD about fire prevention.

Anybody seeking further advice or wishing to book a free boat visit should contact the community safety team on 647300 or via the website at

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