02 June 2010

Northamptonshire County Council’s fire and rescue service and the Boat Safety Scheme have a blunt message for boat owners during Boat Fire Safety Week 2010 (31st May - 6th June): don’t drown in toxic smoke, fit a smoke alarm and test it regularly.

Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke can cause unconsciousness and over the past five years in the UK, at least six people who died in fires on their boats, could have survived if the boats had working smoke alarms fitted.

Several other boats may have not have been destroyed if owners had got an early enough warning to call the fire and rescue service and prevent the fire from spreading throughout the vessel.

Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access, which may result in firefighters taking longer to arrive at an incident and allowing a fire to totally destroy a boat and everything on board.

Community Safety Officer Staci Leach explains ‘Working smoke alarms make a difference to the outcome of fires on boats. All boats with overnight accommodation ought to have smoke alarms fitted that are suitable for boats.

‘Anyone with concerns about alarms, or fire safety in general, should contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 38 999 50 for a free Boat Fire Risk Check. We are here to make sure your boat is as fire safe as possible’

Boat Fire Risk Checks offer boaters the opportunity to gain invaluable help and advice from their local fire and rescue service about how to identify potential problems before a fire starts and what to do if fire should break out.

The key messages are:

  • Fit a suitable smoke alarm and test it routinely
  • Make an escape plan
  • Know your location so you can tell the operator in an emergency
  • Follow the fire prevention advice from the Boat Safety Scheme

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 routinely and should never be disconnected.

For more information please contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety on 01604 797000.

For further information about general boating fire safety, visit www.boatsafetyscheme.com/fire

Additional information:

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service will be visiting waterways around the county in the coming months, including the marinas at Crick, Braunston and Blisworth, details will be circulated prior to the events.

For more information on fire safety please contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service on 01604 797000 or visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills

To book a free Boat Fire Risk Check please contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 38 999 50.

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.

By working in partnership with the Fire Kills campaign, the Boat Safety Scheme is able to raise awareness of fire safety issues affecting the boating community. By providing the necessary information and advice, we will be able to ensure that those in the boating community are as fire safe as possible.

For further information, please contact Rob McLean, Communications Manager at the Boat Safety Scheme, on 01923 201353 or email on robert.m@boatsafetyscheme.com