A fire aboard is probably one of the scariest things that boaters face. You hope it never happens to you, hope you’re prepared, hope you know what to do. But the sad reality is that we know two people who have had their boats burn to the waterline.
Today’s post comes courtesy of Al Felker, who wrote me:
My tip is to practice a fire on your boat. We do this at regular intervals (3 months). I just call out, “There’s a fire on the stove in the galley.” Then wait and see what happens. After the fire is “out”, we discuss what was done right or wrong. A post mortem so to speak. We found out that we didn’t know how to pull the pin or how to pull the trigger on the fire extinguisher! So we did some additional training and will do better next time.
What a great idea! We practice lots of other situations on the boat, why not a fire drill? And I’m sure that one would point out lots of areas where we need to think things through just a little better, or perhaps move a fire extinguisher to make it more accessible.
I’ve written three other articles related to fires that you may want to check out:
- Fire Aboard! Have you ever thought of what you’d do if you had a fire on your boat? What’s the first thing you’d do? A basic guide to fighting a fire on board.
- Using a Fire Blanket — few boats have them, but they’re inexpensive and more effective than fire extinguishers in putting out many fires, especially those in the galley.
- Using a Fire Extinguisher — as Al wrote in his note, do you really know how to operate your fire extinguisher? Or would you be standing there, reading the directions as the flames grew larger?
So what are you waiting for? Go yell “practice fire in the galley” (or engine room, v-berth, lazarette . . . ) and see how everyone handles it. Learn from your mistakes and do another practice in a couple days. Then in a couple of weeks, practice a different type of fire.
I hope you never have to fight a fire for real. But I also hope that if you do, you’re prepared . . . and know when to abandon ship if need be.