Basic fire safety aboard yachts
by Kelly Sanford
Be a part of the plan
Although it’s not the most enjoyable way to start a trip, an owner committed to safety will require that every voyage start with a thorough review of the fire safety and evacuation plan with everyone aboard.
‘The first three minutes are the most important in stopping a fire from spreading,’ says Captain Kitcher.
If it is a guest who first finds a fire, they should know where to find a fire extinguisher and how to use it. When seconds count, time spent looking for help or trying to figure out an unfamiliar extinguisher may mean the difference between a diversion and a disaster.
Ask yourself if you were roused from sleep, blindfolded and denied access to the main staircase, could you find your way to an alternate escape from your cabin? Could your children? If there were a fire, could you locate a fire extinguisher? Do you know where your crew’s muster stations are? Do you know what your crew needs you to do while they attack the fire?
Understanding basic protocol will not only assist an owner in helping his crew if called upon to do so, but also may give the owner and guests the essential peace of mind to not complicate a developing situation with panic should a fire occur with guests on board.
Expect the Unexpected
‘There are not many people in yachting who have never had a fire on board of some description,’ says Captain Kitcher.
Every component of the boat’s fire safety plan should be well understood by everyone aboard. There is a reason first responders constantly drill, and it is because panic is a debilitating emotion. A few minutes of indecision can have devastating consequences.
Make the effort to prepare your crew, commit to a set safety plan and be a part of that plan. It is the steps taken long before a fire ever occurs that will undoubtedly determine the ultimate outcome should the unthinkable happen.