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What Should You Do if a Fire Breaks Out in the Back of Your Boat?

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

what should you do if a fire breaks out in the back of your boat

What should you do if a fire breaks out in the back of your boat? Even though fire hazards, especially on boats, can be very much frightening, try not to freak out.

When a fire breaks, you should move the boat in a downwind direction to prevent the fire and smoke from spreading and causing any further damage.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss approaches to dealing with fire hazards on vessels as well as preventative measures to help you prepare.


Things You Should Do if a Fire Breaks Out in the Back of Your Boat


What should you do immediately when you spot a fire happening in the back of the boat? Read below for detailed steps.

Step 1: Move The Boat In A Downwind Position

First thing first, position the bow against the wind to stop the fire from spreading, if not

Besides, it prevents the smoke from building, lessening the chance of smoke inhalation. If the fire breaks out in the front of your boat, slow it down. Fire spreads more quickly when there’s wind around; moving the boat to a downwind position should help you feel less disoriented, thus staying calm and concentrating on the next steps.move the stern into the wind, so the breeze doesn’t fan the flame at the bow.

Step 2: Turn Off The Engine


You’d want to turn off the engine as soon as you’ve positioned the boat away from the wind. Since the fire is in the back of the vessel, there is a high chance that the boat motor catches fire, if it hasn’t done that already.

Fuel coursing to the engine will feed the flame, resulting in an explosion. For that reason, you should turn the shut-off valve using vice grips to prevent fuel from moving to the engine.

Plus, equip your vessels with a remote shut-and-stop system that allows you to cut off the fuel supply immediately in case of an emergency.

Step 3: Inform Everyone On Board Of The Situation

Notify everyone on the vessel of the situation and have them wear life jackets in case you have to leave the boat.

Next, gather them in a safe place away from the fire and make sure nobody is left behind. It’s best to have another person do this while you carry out other necessary approaches to dealing with the fire.

If the situation gets serious and you have to use a life raft, deploy and evacuate as soon as you can.

Speaking of evacuation, make sure to notify your passengers of the safety exits before departing, so they can familiarize themselves with the boat’s structure in case they have to leave it.

Step 4: Use A Fire Extinguisher


Regardless of the boat sizes, all vessels should come with at least one fire extinguisher boat travellers can use. If you’re not familiar with using this equipment, now is the time to learn.

There is a simple trick to using a fire extinguisher; all you need to remember is PASS.

  • P – Pull the pin
  • A – Aim at the base of the fire
  • S – Squeeze the dispenser
  • S – Sweep from side to side gently

However, dealing with fire can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this case, opt for step 5. Likewise, if it has been more than 2-3 minutes and the fire is not contained, call for help and plan to evacuate as soon as possible.

As trivial as it sounds, trying to contain the fire with water may not be the best approach in this event as it may cause the fire to grow even bigger and spread faster, especially if the motor on your boat catches fire.

Moreover, you don’t know whether the fire was caused due to electricity or not; using water may spread the flammable liquid or even worse, give you an electric shock.

Step 5: Summon Help Using The Radio

Before boating, always have crucial information ready for use in case of emergency. Such information includes the boat’s name, type and size, location, and the number of passengers on board.

You can send a distress signal to call for help from any nearby boat. If there’s still a phone signal, don’t hesitate to call an emergency service to get assistance as soon as possible.

What Are the Main Causes of Boat Fires?


Boats on fire happen more often than you can imagine. According to USCG, nearly 500 boating accidents in 2020 were due to fire. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons that cause a fire on board.

DC electricals account for 35% of the reasons for fires on recreational boats, followed by off-boat sources at 26%. Marinas, garages, and barns can catch on fire without you knowing, resulting in nearby vessels incurring damages.

Besides these aggravating causes, other reasons include fuel and engine-related problems.

When your engine catches on fire or boat motor catches on fire, it’s most likely because of failures in connecting battery cables or overheating.

Additionally, people are not careful with how they store flammable liquids like gasoline or diesel. If not stored properly, fuel canisters can ignite and spark a fire, and it only takes a heat source for this to happen. Hence, you’d want to be careful when smoking or cooking on board.

Ways to Help Prevent a Fire on Your Boat

Prevention is always better than cure. Below are some of the tips to help prevent a fire on your boat.

  • Have your boat regularly inspected, especially the engine ventilation and electrical wirings.
  • Make sure all fire extinguishers are in proper condition and can be used when needed.
  • Take part in fire drills for vessels to become familiar with the process.
  • Follow the safety procedures when fueling/refueling your vessel and check for leakages regularly.


What should you do if a fire breaks out in the back of your boat? Knowing the steps mentioned by heart will help you calm down and handle the situation better when it happens.

Even though no fire incidents are the same, it’s good to have basic knowledge of what to do, so you’re well prepared when they happen.

Thank you for reading, and boat safely!

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