Sailors urged to install smoke alarm

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Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is encouraging boat owners to be aware of fire safety.

Boat Fire Safety Week will take place from May 25 until May 31.

During Boat Fire Safety Week, firefighters will be visiting marinas across Northern Ireland to talk to boat owners and hand out leaflets containing boat fire safety information to help them protect themselves and their passengers.

Last year and during 2013, there were six incidents of fires on boats, ships and motor vessels.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief fire officer Alan Walmsley said: “Fire safety is just as important on a boat as it is in the home. Although boat fires on inland waters are much less common than fires on land, when they do occur, they can have devastating consequences.

“Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access, which may result in firefighters taking longer to arrive at an incident. We would urge all boat owners to ensure they have working smoke alarms on board their boat to alert them and their passengers to the earliest stages of fire and just like you would do at home, test the smoke alarms every week.

“Boaters should also ensure that they fit a suitable fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and cockpit locker. If a fire does occur and is small enough to tackle, boat owners should extinguish the fire.

“As well as taking into account fire safety on the boat, we would urge boat owners to ensure that they know their location at all times so that in the event of any emergency we can get there as soon as possible.”

Reduce the risk from fire by following these simple tips.

·Fit a smoke alarm.

·Ensure furnishings, foam and insulation are fire retardant.

·Make a fire action plan and ensure your crew and passengers are aware of what to do if there is a fire.

·Fit a suitable fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and the cockpit locker.

·Contain and vent battery boxes.

If a fire occurs on the marina:

·If safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies.

·Evacuate the craft and ensure all the crew are wearing lifejackets.

·Call 999 for the Fire and Rescue Service.

·Stay out.

·Warn neighbouring craft.

If a fire occurs at sea:

·Only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so.

·Contact the Coastguard/Fire and Rescue Service by calling 999.

·Identify position or give landmarks.

·Ensure all crew are wearing lifejackets.

·Prepare emergency grab bag (flares, VHF radio, compass) and life raft.

·If safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies.

·Do not open the engine panel.

·Only as a last resort, abandon ship.