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Fire Safety Procedures for Diving Boats

The incident rates and fatalities caused by major fires on watercraft are low. Yet, most boat fires are preventable if the crew are properly trained and firefighting equipment is available.

This guide outlines the underlying causes of small blazes and raging infernos on diving boats, especially liveaboard vessels, and how to safely evacuate a burning boat.

Fire Prevention & Vessel Safety Regulations

In the United Kingdom, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency sets out the requirements for fire protection, fire detection, and fire extinction on board ships.

Yet, there is still room for improvement in fire safety awareness within the scuba diving community worldwide.

Here's the thing:

Take a look at our scuba diving news section and you'll see reports of several recent boat fires happening in popular diving locations.

Ongoing investigations by the relevant authorities will try to determine the root causes of these particular blazes. But, it's fair to say that the majority of large-scale boat infernos tend to happen at night.

So, what are some of the common causes of explosions and fires on large scuba diving boats? In fact, they include things like:

As a general rule, the vessel owner needs to comply with any relevant local laws and regulations that govern boat fire safety.

They also have the responsibility of conducting a fire risk assessment. Doing so targets the potential causes (and locations) for the ignition and spread of an onboard fire. It also helps them develop and implement an emergency action plan, including organising regular fire drills.

Onboard passengers should...

Dive Boat Fire Evacuation Procedures

Make no mistake about it, boat fires spread very quickly. On top of that, toxic smoke reduces the normal visibility to zero. The heat can cause severe burns and block the designated exit points.

In fact, smoke inhalation causes more victims and fatalities than burn injuries. Hence, the reaction of everyone on board should be instantaneous if anyone detects a fire - no matter how small it may be.

Evacuating a fire at sea...

Pro Tip: Check out the information in our guide to dive boats to learn how boating protocols and procedures vary in different parts of the world.

Special Considerations

Despite being a contributing factor of scuba diving deaths worldwide, boat fires are rare. But, the consequences for divers who travel warrant extra safety recommendations, including:

Pro Tip: Following the recommended fire safety procedures is also important onshore, such as when individuals or groups travel to dive and need to stay in a hotel.

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