What To Do If A Boat Motor Catches Fire?2021-08-04T12:28:39-04:00

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What To Do If A Boat Motor Catches Fire?

What Should You Do Immediately If A Boat Motor Catches Fire? AnswerThere are several common causes of boating accidents and unfortunately, boat fire is more prevalent than most people think. This is due to the fact the boat motors are prone to fires as this is where fuel and the ignition source are likely to come into contact.

In a case of emergency – see our Immediate emergency guide below.

If you are not in an emergency setting stick around and read the full review as we will explain the precautionary measures needed in order to be best prepared for a fire emergency.

Immediate Emergency Guide

1. Move passengers away from the fire.

2. Make sure your life jacket is on in the event you need to jump ship.

3. Shut off the engine immediately.

4. Cut off the Fuel supply.

5. Use a Marine Fire Extinguisher and spray in a sweeping motion. (Never use water to put out a an electrical or fuel based fire)

6. Use a Marine fire blanket, or any other heavy quilt to suffocate the oxygen supply of small fires in the event of a missing fire extinguisher.

7. Call for help.

8. Jump Ship and swim to shore or life raft if the fire is out of control or as last resort.

It’s crucial to know what you should do if the motor on your boat catches fire. There are certain immediate actions you need to take to extinguish the fire and get to safety. You also need to have precautionary measures in place to help minimize the chances of a fire breaking out in the first place.

In order to ensure you are able to react quickly and correctly to boat fire, there are several precautionary measures you can take. These will allow you to minimize the damage caused by the fire and protect the people on board.

What Should You Do Immediately If A Boat Motor Catches Fire?

There are different classes of fire that can occur on a boat, so it’s important to be prepared for each one. The most common three classes are:

Ordinary combustibles – paper, wood, cloth, and plastic

Flammable liquids and gases – oil or fuel

Electrical fires – live wires, panels, and circuit breakers

The type of fire extinguisher you should use will depend on the cause of the fire. This is because different fire extinguishers expel different substances from water to dry chemicals, to materials that will stop the conduction of electricity. It’s important to have the right fire extinguisher in place according to the likely source of a fire.

Have The Right Gear

As well as being fully equipped with fire extinguishers, what you should also do in case of boat fire is to ensure you have the right gear. All passengers need to be provided with a personal flotation device (PFD). Your boat needs to be fitted with fire detection systems such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms, along with a complete first aid kit. You also need working emergency communication equipment on board such as radios and flares.

Let Your Passengers Know What To Do Before You Launch

Before you launch, give all passengers instructions on what to do in the case of fire. Ensure they know where to access PFDs, and explain how to disembark safely in a variety of situations.

Other Preventative Measures You Can Take

There are a few ways to prevent boat fire. Regularly maintain the fuel system and engine. You also need to inspect your bilges and keep them clean. Avoid mixing fuel, oxygen, and heat in high concentrations. You should also have a ventilation system installed and regularly inspect it to make sure it’s working properly. Be vigilant and turn off all appliances when not in use and do a check of the boat before sleeping.

During The Fire

Even if you carry out all the necessary precautionary measures, there’s still a chance of a fire breaking out. This is why it’s essential to act quickly and follow the necessary protocol and best practices. Here’s what you should do in case of a boat fire.

What To Do When You First Detect The Fire

If the engine is running you should turn it off immediately. This will prevent the risk of explosion. You also need to quickly switch off the fuel supply. Your boat should have a safety mechanism in place to allow you to do this. It’s possible that the fuel lines might have been compromised by the fire which could cause the fuel to leak. This could otherwise lead to fuel leaking to the tank and causing an explosion. If there are any gas cylinders on the boat, turn these off at the nozzles as these are also flammable.

What Should You Do If A Fire Breaks Out In The Front Of Your Boat?

Once you’ve turned off the engine and fuel supply, identify the source of the fire and where it is. If a fire breaks out in the front of the boat the best thing to do is to position the boat’s stern into the wind direction. The wind will help slow the fire from spreading to the rest of the boat and you can exit through the rear if necessary.

What Should You Do If A Fire Breaks Out In The Back Of Your Boat?

On the other hand, if there is a fire at the back of your boat you should position your boat so that it’s facing into the direction of the wind. The wind will help to keep the flames at the back of the boat and help to reduce smoke spreading across the boat as well.

How To Extinguish A Boat Fire

In the case of a boat fire, you should call for help as soon as possible. You can attempt to extinguish the fire yourself with a marine fire extinguisher. Carbon dioxide or foam extinguishers are the safest for all causes of fire. Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire and sweep the spray back and forth. Never use water to put out a fire, especially if it’s electrical or caused by leaking fuel.

What To Do If You Don’t Have A Fire Extinguisher On Board

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher on board you could try using a fire blanket or another similar heavy cover to help suffocate the fire by blocking its oxygen supply. This is only advisable for small fires, however. If you don’t have a way to extinguish the fire safely then the best thing to do is to evacuate the vessel.

It’s essential to have a contingency plan in place, as knowing what you should do if the motor on your boat catches fire is not enough. Run a safety drill with all passengers and ensure you have all the gear you need in case of emergencies. It’s also imperative to carry out the necessary precautions to help prevent a boat fire. With regular maintenance you can help to minimize the risk.

Check Out How to Choose A Fire Extinguisher


Hopefully this information gave you a better idea on how you would answer those initial questions posed in the beginning of the article. Although it can be cliche to say, but safety should be priority number 1 when you a considering any boating activity. Having a thorough safety checklist is an excellent way to ensure that you take every precautionary measure possible in the case of any emergency.

Make sure you visit your local town office to make sure that you adhere to the proper and legal guidelines to your specific geographical location.