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Boat Fire


Wussername

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A shame to lose one of these.

I won’t name the vessel until all has been confirmed but I think it’s obvious to most people which of the Pearls that was.

If she was unoccupied then I think the possible causes are fairly minimal. As Andrew says, they’re fairly rare these days.

We don’t know what the cause is yet so I won’t speculate.

It’s probably a good warning for all that gas bottles should be off when a boat is unoccupied and that electrical systems should be off and / or isolated when not needed and that those which are needed (ie battery charging etc) should be well maintained.

Automatic fire supression systems are also not a bad idea around the engine bay.

 

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12 hours ago, Wonderwall said:

That's a sad sight . The picture isn't very clear , but the boat appears to be adrift  So potentially someone still on it ? 

Is it a private boat ?

The fire often burns through the ropes setting the alight boat adrift.

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They can indeed be replaced but only if the insurance pay up! When I had an electrical fire, they refused to on the basis that the cables were old and the system had not been checked regularly - who gets their whole electrical system checked by anyone throughout the boat on a regular basis? Where do you start?

Old Gregg however makes the most valid point about turning the electrics off on a vacant boat, apart from the bilge pump.  Mine just happened to start when I was moored up in the marina and I was aboard and alerted by the smouldering - turning the power off stopped further damage but it was touch and go. Flames had already started, albeit small but as soon as I turned the power off,they died down. So learn to shut down completely, and that includes your seacocks too, and do it every time you leave your boat unattended - just make it a habit!

However the claim was turned down for the reasons stated above and that was one of the leading boat insurers, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for the owners!!!!!

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10 minutes ago, marshman said:

They can indeed be replaced but only if the insurance pay up! When I had an electrical fire, they refused to on the basis that the cables were old and the system had not been checked regularly - who gets their whole electrical system checked by anyone throughout the boat on a regular basis? Where do you start?

Old Gregg however makes the most valid point about turning the electrics off on a vacant boat, apart from the bilge pump.  Mine just happened to start when I was moored up in the marina and I was aboard and alerted by the smouldering - turning the power off stopped further damage but it was touch and go. Flames had already started, albeit small but as soon as I turned the power off,they died down. So learn to shut down completely, and that includes your seacocks too, and do it every time you leave your boat unattended - just make it a habit!

However the claim was turned down for the reasons stated above and that was one of the leading boat insurers, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for the owners!!!!!

Wise words, thank you.  I'll bet you changed insurers after that?  You just don't know how good they are until you have to make a claim.  Fortunately I never had to.

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I’ve seen some electrical horrors on used boats and I’d expect anything which has been out of hire for a decent amount of time to have a variety of DIY ‘treats’ in store for a potential owner.

A rewire is probably not that high on most people’s list of priorities but it’s very important.

With regards to insurance, it’s always important to look very carefully at the list of policy exclusions. The best price will usually buy you the worst policy and insurers will happily find reasons not to pay. I have worked for two major names in the insurance industry plus a repairer in the sector and it does change one’s perception.

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That is going to be a big pollution problem, right there at the mouth of Daisy Broad.  When a Fibreglass boat burns down to the waterline and sinks, it leaves a ghastly mess in the water. 

Unless they managed to get some kind of boom around it, I think a lot of boats in Wroxham will be going around with black waterlines for a week or two.

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It is, I suppose,  predictable that after an incident that has already been called a "rare event" there will be a reaction by the riskaphobic groups that the BSS should include electrics and that children and dogs must not be allowed on boats that have batteries.

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If anyone remembers Fiona and I had a fire involving electricity ( forgive the pedant in me). The galvanic isolator melted due to an internal fault. The unit was sent back to the manufacturer and they found NOTHING UNTOWARD…Despite the fact I had seen with eyeball mark one the thing spitting and dripping larva like materials all down it’s front ( was mounted vertically) which then set alight the insulation material for the high amperage cables….. 

TBH after I had lifted the deck boards the conflagration increased immediately and I couldn’t breathe at all, the smoke paralyses the diaphragm and you simply can’t breathe. A few gulps of outside the canopies air and back I went with extinguisher and put it out. It took the whole contents of the powder extinguisher to do so. 
 

Im not permitted to make safety recommendations HOWEVER, we now have multiple FFF extinguishers onboard. Reason, it clearly states on the powder extinguishers “do not discharge in a confined space” what pray is a boat…?

it took us weeks and weeks to get rid of that stench inducing powder. Triple F on the other hand is safe for all likely applications. Wonder why they aren’t mandated rather than the ones we’re not supposed to even use on boats. No I’ve no clue either…

Over and Out Viktor……

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22 minutes ago, MargeandParge said:

As many may say you can't be over and out so please tell what are multiple FFF fire extinguishers. 

Known as A triple F.

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam.

Used extensively in airports and on offshore platforms for fighting aircraft fires.

Yes, it would have been the best (and only) way to put out the fire on that Fibreglass boat, without actually sinking it with the water from fire pumps.  I have seen Fibreglass boats burned down and sunk, which continued burning underwater, for a long time.  Burning GRP creates its own oxygen.

All the same I rather doubt that the local fire brigade would have turned up on Daisy Broad with appliances equipped to smother a fire such as that, with AFFF.

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5 hours ago, Malanka said:

If anyone remembers Fiona and I had a fire involving electricity ( forgive the pedant in me). The galvanic isolator melted due to an internal fault. The unit was sent back to the manufacturer and they found NOTHING UNTOWARD…Despite the fact I had seen with eyeball mark one the thing spitting and dripping larva like materials all down it’s front ( was mounted vertically) which then set alight the insulation material for the high amperage cables….. 

You are not alone, I had the same thing go on Belmore from Barnes Brinkcraft - they had not heard of such happening before, and commented some of these are mounted under foam seating.

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Wasn’t it the split charger that failed on Belmore?

Just thinking there are quite a few things which can fail in such a way.

Of course there is gas, too. A small and very slow gas leak is likely to eventually be ignited by something.

We don’t know what caused this fire.

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22 hours ago, oldgregg said:

We don’t know what caused this fire.

Indeed not and I am not going to speculate, either.

All the same, members who own boats and are concerned about fire prevention, may want to hear about a fire that I suffered while running a hire fleet on the Thames, at Staines, back in 1991 :

The boat was an old Bounty 37 bath-tub, which had gas heating, gas cooker and a gas fridge.  This meant the electrics were very basic, consisting of neon strip lights, a water pump and a shower tray pump.  It didn't even have a charge splitter and relied on two batteries in parallel to provide all the power needed.  No shore power either!  The boat was not on hire and had been moored in our basin for 4 days, un-occupied and with both gas bottles turned off.  Not much could go wrong with that, you might think?

It caught fire in the middle of a Friday night and by the time the Fire Brigade had got there and got access to the site, it had burned down to the waterline and was sunk by the fire pumps.  A few days later I managed to raise the wreck with our mobile crane and pump it out, so that what was left could be seen.  At this point a fire officer from the local brigade arrived, to make his inspection, for insurance purposes.

He spent about two minutes looking at it, saw the remains of a gas fridge and therefore announced that this must have been the cause, so just another gas fire.  This was until I gently reminded him that his men had been able to recover two full gas bottles, during the fire, which were saved intact and were both turned off.  These bottles were undamaged and were later returned to the gas company and re-used.  I then (also gently) pointed out that the floorboards all through the boat were intact and were not burned, although scorched by falling debris. This meant, quite clearly, that the fire had started high up in the boat and was not caused by a gas explosion in the bilges, which would have lifted and shattered the floorboards.

After this "worthy" had departed with his tail between his legs, I thought I had better have a good look and see if I could find out what had actually happened. It was very obvious from the wreckage that the fire had started in the aft cabin, somewhere above the floors. We were in a basin just off the towpath in Staines, where a lot of "youth" would have a lot of fun on a Friday night, so I suspected arson, from a firework thrown in through a window onto a bed. Except that a Bounty 37 has no hopper windows and the aft door had been found still locked after the fire.

I sifted about on the floor among the mess until I came across a lump of what appeared to be a melted copper wire winding, maybe from a solenoid or a small motor and about the size of a golf ball. I realised that this must have been the small 220v shaver point which had been screwed on the bulkhead by the mirror, for those who wished to use an electric razor. There must be thousands of these little boxes on boats all over the Broads.

Had it been installed in a circuit with a fuse?  Yes it had.  But fuses only blow because of a surge in amps. They will not react to a breakdown in the insulation of a transformer winding, which causes resistance, which causes volt drop, which causes heat and which catches fire.  It then set fire to the plywood bulkhead and the result, next morning, was three boats written off and sunk with a further two seriously damaged, before they could be dragged out of the way.

 

firestaines1.thumb.jpeg.b899a9130a604a756ae21523fb8254a1.jpeg

 

firestaines2.thumb.jpeg.d3c8d59b70a23ce70fb7f646d6e782bd.jpeg

 

firestaines3.thumb.jpeg.caada22576b6ef196c21839aeaf31b54.jpeg

 

There are two morals to this story :

1/. Don't ever assume that an officially appointed fire safety officer knows anything at all about boats.

2/. Check the shaver points on your boat and make sure they are the new type, with a switch and a red warning light. The same sort of fire can be caused by inverters or battery chargers if they are not installed with good ventilation.  If not, they can overheat and may catch fire.

 

 

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