Marine Fire Safety

  • Marina fires are violent and devastating events
  • They are difficult and dangerous fires to fight
  • Marina fires can progress so rapidly that firefighters can only hope to limit their growth
  • Rapid extinguishment of a fire of this nature is not likely.

The real opportunity to save lives and property lies in prevention.

  • The greatest opportunity to prevent a fire is to educate boat owners to recognize hazards for the safety of the marina.
  • Marina managers are best positioned to provide fire safety information to their tenants through a variety of methods, including classes, newsletters and mailings.
  • A marina occupied by knowledgeable and caring occupants will be a safer marina.

Many of the common fire prevention tips for homes apply to boats too.

  • When docking at a marina, check around for fire protective measures such as fire extinguishers, cleanliness, clear dock passageways, security, good lighting, etc. If you don't feel safe, notify the marina staff.
  • Use CSA or ULC marine approved cord sets and connections. Do not hook up if you see burn marks or your cord set will not firmly connect.
  • Routinely replace cord sets. Worn or overloaded cord sets and damaged shore power connections are a common cause of fires.
  • Regularly inspect electrical and fuel systems. Have a professional upgrade the wiring to maintain the needs of your navigational equipment and other appliances.
  • Never leave operating electrical equipment, including heaters, unattended. When leaving your boat for any reason, turn portable heaters off.
  • Smoke alarms are important life saving devices and should be installed in your boat.
  • Plan your escape. Having an escape plan can save your life in an emergency.
  • Have an approved fire extinguisher on board and know how to use it. Fire extinguishers should be mounted near an exit so you are moving toward an exit as you access the extinguisher.
  • Keep the dock clean and clear. Don't leave engine parts, tools or other equipment on the dock.
  • Properly dispose of oily rags in a metal container with a tight fitting lid. Leaving oily rags wrapped up in a grocery bag is not safe. The chemicals will begin to breakdown the rags, causing heat and possibly a fire.
  • Boat owners must take responsibility for preventing fires on their boat and in the marina. The most common causes of boat fires-electrical malfunctions, unattended portable heaters and poor housekeeping-are not particular to boating life.

If you see a fire hazard or have concerns, share them with marina management. Visit Harbours for more information.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Coast Guard approved extinguishers required for boats are hand portable, either 5BC or 1OBC classification and have a specific marine type-mounting bracket.
  • A fire extinguisher you choose must be certified and labelled by the US/CON Coast Guard (for marine use) ULC or UL.
  • It is recommended the extinguishers be mounted in a readily accessible position, away from the areas where a fire could likely start, such as the galley or the engine compartment.

Visit the Fire Extinguishers page for more information.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)

  • More than 90% of boating-related deaths are from drowning.
  • 80% of those drowning victims were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD!

Anytime anyone is boating, there's a chance of falling overboard.

  • You can choose between lifejackets and PFD's keep in mind that lifejackets offer a higher level of protection.
  • Transport Canada requires a lifejacket or PFD for each person aboard a vessel operating on Canadian waters.
  • Each should be in good condition, of an appropriate size, and readily accessible.
  • A lifejacket is not considered readily accessible for children twelve years old and under unless the child wears it.

Remember! An inflatable PFD is not approved for:

  • Anyone under 16 years old
  • Anyone who weighs less than 36.3 kg (80 lbs)
  • Use on a personal watercraft

When buying a PFD always check the labels to make sure it is Canadian approved. For more information about choosing a lifejacket or PFD, visit the Wear Life Jacket website.

  • Pick a life jacket or PFD that fits you and fits the type of boating you will be doing.
  • For your device to work, it has to be kept in good condition.
  • Always air-dry your PFD thoroughly before stowing it.
  • Check it twice a year for mildew, leaks, insecure straps, or hardened stuffing.

For information on marine-type fire extinguishers and personal flotation device requirements visit the Government of Canada Boating Safety website.

For additional information on fire safety contact the Oakville Fire Department- Fire Prevention Division at 905-338-4404