Boater Safety: Tips that Will Float Your Boat

Yes, typically water does put out fires… however there is an extremely high fire risk on boats and marine machinery. It’s important to understand what preventative measures should be taken in order to avoid fire hazards from occurring. 

Ship Safety Requirements

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 301 is the “Code for Safety to Life from Fire on Merchant Vessels.” This code focuses on the construction, arrangement, protection, and space utilization of merchant’s vessels that aim to limit the danger.

Taking the necessary precautions is critical to the safety of your boat and your passengers in case of a fire emergency from not only the actual fire but also fumes, smoke, and human response.

Having the proper amount of fire extinguishers on your vessel is a great start, however, it is not the whole picture. 

How to Protect Your Ship From a Fire

The steps mentioned above are considered large-scale. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details of boat safety. 

Ships Business provides some insight into what should be checked in your engine room to ensure proper safety.

Some of these items include:

  • Having proper escape routes that are properly lit by emergency illumination 
  • All railing on the boat is properly secured
  • There are more than enough life jackets per person that are easily accessible 
  • All safety signs are updated and easy to read
  • Escape routes are not blocked
  • All portable fire extinguishers are correctly stored and up-to-date on inspections
  • Anyone onboard the ship is wearing the proper protective gear depending on the type of boat
  • Steam, water, or oil leaks anywhere in the machinery space
  • Pipe Insulations are oil-free
  • Walkways, stairways, and ladders are clean and dry
  • Any supplies and materials are properly stored
  • Approved First Aid supplies readily available, accessible, and clearly marked

These among many other checks are essential to the safety of your vessel.

The Engine Room

The engine room of your vessel is one spot that should be triple-checked for well-functioning equipment, in hopes of preventing a fire or an explosion. One of the major fire safety requirements in the engine room is to install automatic fire suppression systems.


While you’re on the water, whether it be for pleasure or work, marine fire safety and preparation cannot be overlooked. Having the right fire safety equipment and performing the right maintenance and routine inspections may be the difference between life and death.

Our VFS team is prepared to get your vessel in tip-top shape with the right marine fire safety equipment. In fact, the VFS Houston Team has been continuing to grow our marine department and has recently acquired four new Tug & Barge Companies—bringing their annual total of vessels to perform fire safety inspections and testing to approximately 375.

It’s almost the new year. That means fireworks, parties, and a lot of champagne! What the new year shouldn’t bring, is more fire hazards! Learn more about the top safety tips going into the new year on our blog.