Firefighters highlight the importance of alarms during Boat Fire Safety Week

Crews from Avon Fire and Rescue (AF&RS) will be visiting people living on the waterways in our area to warn about the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide as part of Boat Fire Safety Week.

Firefighters in Bristol and Bath will visit boat owners to provide information around fire safety on boats, including the risks associated with carbon monoxide (CO), as part of the Bristol Water Safety Partnership.

Taking place between 28 May and 3 June, the week is timed to tie in with the start of the leisure boating season.

It aims to raise awareness around fitting both smoke alarms and CO alarms, both of which can provide early warnings in an emergency, in line with the advice of the Boat Safety Scheme.

Working with the Canal and River Trust, crews will be visiting houseboats in Bristol harbour and along the River Avon.

Chair of the Bristol Water Safety Partnership, Matt Peskett, from Avon Fire and Rescue Service said: “While the number of boat fires in the Avon area is relatively low, these incidents can have devastating consequences. People are injured, and in some cases, killed, as a result of on board fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“People should always be aware of their location as vessels are often moored in remote locations are difficult for us to reach; a relatively minor fire can cause the total destruction of a boat.”

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.

Care should also be taken to ensure adequate ventilation is in place when burning fuel to prevent a build-up of carbon monoxide and other gases.

Group Manager, Risk Reduction, Steve Quinton said: “We know that boats carry a very high fire risk, and we want to ensure that people spending time on their boats are doing all they can to protect themselves.

“During Boat Fire Safety Week we’ll be offering fire safety advice, and fitting smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as required, we will also be reminding boaters of the importance of knowing their location at all times so that, in the event of any emergency, we can get there as quickly as possible.”

For more advice 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.


  • Store any flammable liquids you need to keep on board, for example diesel or oil, safely.


  • Never leave cooking unattended and take extra care when using fat and oil.


  • Maintain your boat’s engine and fuel system regularly.


  • When burning fuel, make sure there is adequate ventilation to prevent a build-up of carbon monoxide and other gases.


  • If a fire does break out, get out, stay out and dial 999.


Tips for protecting your boat from carbon monoxide (CO):

  • Install fuel burning appliances properly, in-line with maker’s directions.


  • Follow servicing guidelines; maintenance should be routine and carried out by a competent person.


  • Always use appliances as per the instructions and never use cookers for space heating.


  • Don’t block ventilation – appliance fuels like gas, coal, wood, oil and paraffin need sufficient air to burn safely.


  • Don’t bring charcoal BBQs on board, or have them near a cabin during or after use.


  • Keep engine fumes out of the cabin space; never use a portable generator in or near a cabin.


  • Learn about the danger signs, spot potential hazards before CO occurs.


  • Deal with problems immediately, never use equipment you suspect has problems.


  • Install a certified CO alarm (BS EN 50291-2), test it routinely and never remove the batteries.