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Why do boats catch on fire?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2019 | Maritime Law |

On a boat, a fire is terrifying and very dangerous. There is nowhere else to go. People can become trapped in a matter of seconds. With a boat that is out on the open ocean, a fire can quickly take lives. Even those who survive the fire itself can end up in serious danger while waiting for rescue.

While it is important to know how to react to fires on boats, it’s perhaps even more important to understand why they happen in the first place. This may allow workers and crews to keep the fires from starting by eliminating potential sources and knowing what warning signs to look out for.

With that in mind, here are some of the main reasons for boat fires:

  • DC electrical issues
  • AC electrical issues
  • Off-boat sources
  • Engine fires
  • Fuel leaks and related problems

You can break some of these down even further. For instance, within the DC electrical category, one study broke those fires down into:

  • Engine electrical: 20%
  • Batteries: 8%
  • Other DC fires: 15%

Those three areas added up to the 43% of the total fires caused by DC electrical sources. It was the largest single category that the study found, showing the greatest danger to those who work or travel on ships.

Companies must take the time to do maintenance and to carry out periodic safety inspections so that they can spot and fix these issues before a fire breaks out on board. However, these tragic accidents do still happen, and it’s important for those who suffer serious injuries to know what options they have.