All boats should have suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

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Boat Fire Safety Week, which runs from 24-30 May, is a great opportunity for Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service to remind boat owners that it’s time for all boats to have effective smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

All crew members should understand the risks and follow the published advice from the Boat Safety Scheme in its leaflets and on its website.

Despite all efforts, should fire break out, or a carbon monoxide escape occur, survival or the reduction of damage will depend on the presence of suitable working smoke and CO alarms. The Scheme publishes lists of suitable alarms on its website and has advice from the manufacturers on the best places to fix the devices. Alarms should be tested routinely using the test button and the batteries replaced as necessary and never removed.

HWFRS Prevention manager Emma Roberts said: “While boat fires are relatively infrequent in our Service area, they do have the potential for devastating consequences and so we would urge all boat users to take note of the advice above and do everything they can to stay safe.”

She also reminded people to make sure they can give a good indication of their location when aboard a boat,

“Access to rivers and canals can be difficult, but good directions can help avoid any unnecessary delay in the event of an emergency,” she said.

Between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2020 there were 26 boat fires in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The most common boat type was a barge (eight) followed by motor yacht (six), other water craft (6), fishing boat (five) and large passenger vessel (one).

The most common cause of boat fires was faulty fuel supply – petrol product (four incidents, 15%). The rest were caused due to a variety of reasons.

Within those 10 years, 23% of the boat fires were caused deliberately.

Seven people were taken to hospital with injuries appearing to be serious, 10 people were taken to hospital with injuries appearing to be slight and two people received first aid at the scene.

For further information about general boat fire and CO safety, visit