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Fire Investigation in Boat Storage Areas

Posted by on in Marine
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As the boating season comes to an end, it is time for owners to have their pleasure and sporting craft stored for the winter months. Many people prefer indoor storage because it fully protects their boats from the weather, but they also like to work on their boats when they can’t be out on the water. When fire investigators are called to a scene in a boat storage area, they may find that something a boat owner did during their tinkering caused a fire that not only damaged their own boat, but those around it.

Fire Hazards in Boat Storage Area

The hazards inherent in a boat storage area are defined by a legal code but the guidelines in the code are either not known or ignored. For example, boats are supposed to be stored with gas tanks 75% or more full. This limits the vapor space that allows for expansion and contraction of the gases. A recent survey conducted by Blaze Fire Investigation revealed that most people leave their gas tanks less than 10% full. It seems counterintuitive, but this creates a hazard because there is a larger vapor space and vapors don’t stay put, they migrate. All it takes is an open flame like a cigarette or a torch, or the use of an electrical tool and you have an ignition source that can cause an explosion.

Flammable Fumes and Faulty Electrical Work

In addition to fuel vapors, boat owners use a variety of flammable liquids to clean and refinish the surfaces on their boats. Power tools can provide an ignition source by causing sparks. Excessively long extension cords that are wound over, under and around the other vessels parked in the building can also be a potential ignition source. The guidelines in NFPA 303 regarding electrical systems in wet locations are complex and unless an owner is also a professional electrical, they probably won’t be able to understand and follow them. Still, owners work on the wiring and electrical components of their boats, creating hazards when they use non-marine aftermarket parts and incorrect wiring techniques.

Investigating Large Losses in Boat Storage Facilities

When Blaze Fire Investigators get a case that involves a boat storage area, it often represents a large loss. Boats are stored in close proximity during the off-season which makes it easy for a fire to spread to neighboring vessels in a very short amount of time. Fire Investigators’ knowledge of the environment in boat storage facilities helps them to move through all aspects of the case. They expertly manage the scene and assure that everyone who needs to be on call for the investigation is included.

Marine Fire Investigation Specialty

Fire investigation services for boats, docks and storage facilities require special certifications and skills. Contact Blaze Fire Investigation to assign a project or to learn more about how we help clients find the answers they need.

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