It’s time for all boats to have suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, says Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.

Boat  fire safety media image

During the national ‘Fire Kills’ Campaign’s Boat Fire Safety Week, (30 May – 5 June), the two counties’ firefighters will be giving this message to boaters:

“It’s time for all boats to have suitable smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.”

Timed for the start of the boating season, the heart of the message is that all crew members should understand the risks and follow the published advice from the Boat Safety Scheme in its leaflets and on its website, which includes having a good escape plan.

Indeed, the yacht that caught fire and sank in Torquay Marina over the weekend is a timely reminder of the importance of boat safety.

Despite all efforts, should fire break out or a CO escape occur, the critical survival factor will be 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 using the test button routinely and the batteries replaced as necessary and never removed.

Between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2021 there were 23 boat fires in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Barges were the most common boat type (7 incidents) followed by other water craft (6 incidents), motor yachts (5), fishing boats (4) and a passenger vessel (1).

9 people were taken to hospital with injuries, some of them serious, and two people received first aid at the scene.

Boat Safety Scheme manager, Kevin Tyson said:

“Too many lives have been lost and people hurt in boat fires and due to CO poisoning.

“The boating community can embrace the idea of ‘no more avoidable tragedies’.

“Being protected by suitable smoke and CO alarms should be viewed as a normal part of boat ownership.”

HWFRS Head of Prevention Emma Roberts said:

While boat fires are relatively infrequent in our Service area, they do have the potential for devastating consequences. That’s why we’re urging 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.

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