Got a boat? Stay afloat – get a smoke alarm.

Although boat fires on our coastal and inland waters are less common than fires on land, when they do occur they can be devastating to all involved, totally destroying the boat and putting lives at risk. Boats are often in remote locations which may result in firefighters taking longer to arrive.

Fire Minister Sadiq Khan said:

"A fire on a boat can be as devastating as a house fire and puts lives at risk. It makes sense for boats with sleeping accommodation to be fitted with smoke alarms. A smoke alarm gives you the vital time to awake from sleep and escape the fire on a boat, just as they do in house fires.

"With over 450,000 motorised boats on rivers, canals, lakes and the coast around the UK, I am urging all boat owners to take simple steps to reduce the risk of fire on their boats and ensure that they have the correct fire safety equipment on board. The Boat Safety Scheme provides valuable advice."

Boat Fire Risk Checks, available throughout England, 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 should a fire break out.

Ten top tips for boat fire safety from the Fire and Rescue Service are

1. Fit a suitable smoke alarm
2. Make a fire action plan including: planning escape route, calling the fire service, turning off fuel and know when to leave the boat and know how to deal with a fire if you can’t get off immediately
3. Take extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders
4. Avoid using portable gas equipment onboard, where possible, and store all gas canisters in special gas lockers or open places where any leaks will flow overboard
5. Check battery cables and fuse box connections routinely for damage including signs of overheating
6. Take care when doing repairs – don’t bodge the job
7. Keep interiors well ventilated if you’re using adhesives, paints and spirit based products
8. Always keep your eye on a solid fuel stove when it’s lit, try to avoid leaving the boat with the stove running
9. Do not leave cooking food or candles unattended
10. Take care with cigarettes, matches and pipe tobacco, ensuring that they are fully extinguished – Put it out, right out

For boats, optical sensor smoke alarms with hush buttons and sealed for life batteries are recommended, and choose those with a British Standard ‘Kitemark’ or a LPCB ‘Horseshoe’ mark. Smoke alarms should be tested regularly – Push the button, not your luck.

For further information about boating fire safety, please contact the Boat Safety Scheme on 01923 201278 or visit the fire advice for boaters at

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