Few things are more frightening, or potentially more lethal, than fires on board. The real point, of course, is to prevent them from starting in the first place. I’ve found that often people who own diesel cruising boats don’t worry about fires that much. But diesel burns just as fast as gasoline does once it’s ignited; it’s just that the temperature at which diesel ignites is higher. And gas is explosive. All that’s to say that everyone would be well advised to take some simple precautions to prevent fires on board, because once they start, they often spread quickly. And many fires start in the galley, where it doesn’t matter whether your engines depend on diesel or gas for power.
Here are some tips from the U.S. Power Squadrons on how to prevent fires. They can serve as a refresher, or a reminder of things to do when boating season starts again. First, check the bilge for grease, oil or debris; while you’re down there, look at the fuel tanks and fuel lines for any signs of leaks. And check the electrical system for bare or loose wires or connections; you don’t want a spark to ignite fuel vapor. Up top, remember to keep fuel for a dinghy or water toys in the open where there is ventilation. And make sure the charcoal is completely cold before you secure the grill; embers can cause a fire long after the cookout is over.