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Updated: 04/18/2014 08:00:01AM
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By Bill Hempel

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We seldom hear a news report of a minor boat fire. Usually it is a report of a boat that burned to the water line. That is because boats are usually out of reach of any fire fighting assistance and in an environment of strong winds that will fan any blaze; all the while sitting on top of hundreds of gallons of fuel. So the best way to avoid injury and catastrophic loss is through prevention. Many fires are caused by poor fueling practices but there are also many other conditions that can start a fire.

When fueling, it is important to close all hatches and port holes to prevent the heavier than air fumes from collecting in a closed low location. Turn off all electrical equipment to prevent any potential source of sparking and remove all portable tanks from your vessel. Have a fire extinguisher at hand and of course do not smoke. Before beginning to fuel, discharge any static electricity by touching the boat and during fueling keep the nozzle in contact with the filler pipe to prevent creating a static spark. After fueling open up all hatches and ports and run the blower to clear out any residual fumes before turning on electrical equipment and starting the engine. One of your best tools is your nose, so give the boat a good sniff test just to be sure.

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