London Fire Brigade

Brigade issues boat blaze advice

28 May 2010

London Fire Brigade and the Boat Safety Scheme are joining forces during Boat Fire Safety Week (25th-31st May) to urge the boating community to be more fire safe on board. 

Although boat fires on are less common than fires on land, when they do occur, they can have devastating consequences. Only this week, twenty firefighters from London Fire Brigade tackled a large fire on a houseboat which was moored on the Thames near Albert Bridge in Battersea. Fortunately no one was injured in the fire but the boat was badly damaged by the blaze.

With over 450,000 motorised boats in the UK, and a growth in boating on many inland waterways, London Fire Brigade is urging people to check that their boats are equipped with the correct fire safety equipment.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Fire Safety, said:

“Boat owners are more likely to be out on the water at this time of year – that’s why we want people to think about how to protect themselves and their boats from fire. This isn’t just about million pound yachts in Chelsea, it’s about the many barges and boats people call their homes, on our rivers and canals.

My top tip is to fit a smoke alarm. An alarm will alert you to a fire sooner, thus reducing the risk of damage to the boat and increasing your chance of getting out safely”.

Anyone in doubt about the alarm they need should contact London Fire Brigade for a free Boat Fire Risk Visit.

During a Boat Fire Risk Visit, firefighters offer advice about how to identify potential problems before a fire starts and what to do if fire breaks out. Fire safety is even more important on the water if you live alone, are older or have mobility problems, so firefighters particularly want to speak to boat owners who fall into these groups.

London Fire Brigade’s top boat fire safety tips:

  • Fit a suitable smoke alarm
  • Make a fire action plan
  • Take extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders
  • Avoid using portable gas equipment onboard, where possible, and store all gas canisters in special gas lockers or open places where any leaks will flow overboard
  • Check such items as battery terminals and fuse box connections routinely for damaged strands or signs of overheating
  • Take care when doing repairs, and keep interiors well ventilated if you’re using adhesives, paints and spirit based products
  • Always keep your eye on a solid fuel stove when it’s lit, try to avoid leaving the boat with the stove running

For boats, optical sensor alarms with hush buttons and sealed for life batteries are recommended as are choosing those with a British Standard 'Kitemark' or a LPCB 'Horseshoe' mark.  As with smoke alarms in the home, alarms should be tested regularly and should never be disconnected.

Notes to Editors

Did you know?

  • On average, 89 fire-related accidents and injuries occur on boats in the UK every year
  • Fires on privately owned boats kill at least three people every year.

To book a free Boat Fire Risk Visit, please contact London Fire Brigade for free on 08000 28 44 28. 

For more information on fire safety please visit

For further information about boating fire safety, please contact the Boat Safety Scheme on 01923 201278 or visit

The Boat Safety Scheme’s role is to minimise the risks of fires or explosions on boats cruising the UK's inland waterways network, by specifying a set of requirements that most boats must meet before they can be granted a navigation licence.  The Scheme also recommends a number of 'safety best practice' measures which enhance the personal health and safety of those on board privately owned boats.

The Boat Safety Scheme raises awareness of fire safety issues affecting the boating community.  By providing the necessary information and advice, we will be able to ensure that the boating community are as fire safe as possible.