All aboard for fire safety advice

People living on house boats in the Bristol, Keynsham and Saltford areas have been getting a knock on their portholes from local firefighters this week as Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) takes its Fire engine respondingfire safety messages onto the water.

Using the AF&RS safety boat, crews have been out on the waterways to highlight ways to reduce the risk of fire breaking out on board during Boat Fire Safety Week (Monday 26 May to Sunday 1 June).

They have also been fitting free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms where required.

AF&RS Station Manager, Martyn Bolt, said: “The number of boat fires in the Avon area is relatively low, however, when they do occur they have devastating consequences. People are injured, and in some cases, killed as a result of on board fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“In 2012 a man sadly died and another was badly injured during a boat fire in Bath.

“These vessels are often moored in remote locations that are difficult for us to reach; in many cases a relatively minor fire can cause the total destruction of a boat.

“Hopefully this week we can extend the Home Fire Safety work we have already been doing in thousands of homes across the area, and provide people living on houseboats with free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors which could ultimately save their life.”

Among the risks facing boat owners is the presence of liquid petroleum gas installations or petrol cans which may be in close proximity to ignition sources such as candles or cigarettes. There are also dangers posed by solid fuel stoves, a familiar fixture on many narrow boats and barges.

Station Manager Bolt added: “I would urge anyone we don’t get around to visit this week, whether they live on a house boat or on the dry land to call us on 0117 926 2061 and arrange a free Home Fire Safety Visit.”

Tips for protecting your boat from fire:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on board your boat and ensure the batteries are working by checking it once a week.
  • Make sure everyone aboard your boat knows the safest way to escape if fire does break out. If the route involves windows or hatches, check they are big enough and that there is an emergency hammer nearby in case you need to break the glass.
  • Never leave cooking unattended and take extra care when using fat and oil.
  • Store any flammable liquids you need to keep on board, for example diesel or oil, safely.
  • Maintain your boat’s engine and fuel system regularly.
  • If a fire does break out, get out, stay out and dial 999.