Precautions When Refueling Your Boat

Land-based fires are scary, however, at sea, they are downright terrifying. Every year it seems we see dramatic videos or hear of a heart-wrenching disaster involving maritime fire. While not an extremely common occurrence, boat fires do happen and can cause major damage, injury and even death. Factoring in that emergency responders may not be readily available and that fiberglass boats can be reduced to rubble in a matter of minutes, owners must do everything they can to prevent this horrific scenario. One of the leading causes of fire on board a boat is improper fueling. Filling up with gas seems simple enough but being on guard against specific dangers is prudent. By taking certain safety precautions when refueling your boat, you can avoid possible disaster.

Danger Zone  

As aforementioned, improper fueling is often to blame for boat fires. We fill up our cars with gas constantly and know not to smoke or have flammable items on our person. Vehicle fires at gas stations are rare and generally not catastrophic so what makes refueling a boat more dangerous? There are a few scenarios that could possibly cause a fire or worse an explosion on board your vessel if not checked. Fumes are the most common starter of fires. While gassing up your boat, the blower vents can suck fumes back into your boat. At any moment sparks could create a fire or explosion. Additionally, bad hoses can allow gas fumes into your bilge. Static may also create a fire danger. Failure to maintain metal to metal contact when fueling can allow static electricity to birth a spark. Operator errors are another factor. You may be surprised how often someone pumps gas while the boat is running or while smoking a cigarette. The commonality of these events is that they are avoidable.

An Ounce of Prevention is … Priceless 

The saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applies with much deeper meaning regarding boat fires. That prevention can save thousands of dollars in damages and even more important, human life. There are many safety precautions you can take while fueling your boat. Always, make sure you are gassing up at a well maintained, properly functioning fueling station like the marina at Pensacola Shipyard. Our new, pristine facility offers high and regular speed dispensing options and two pumps (diesel and regular). In addition to where you are purchasing fuel, there are other measures you can take to keep your vessel and its occupants safe while fueling up.  

Power off 

The engine should never be on when fueling your boat, nor should any electrical switches or the ignition.

Lone Ranger

Everyone loves company, but the fuel station is an exception. No passengers should be aboard when you are adding fuel. Once fueling is done and after the engine is safely restarted, your guests are free to climb back aboard the boat.

Shut Up

Shutting doors, hatches and ports while filling up is key to prevent fumes from settling into lower parts of your vessel.

Nice and Tight

Do not rely on a rod holder. Hold the nozzle tight against the fuel deck pipe (metal to metal contact) to avoid static.

Know When to Say When

Check your gauge prior to pumping to avoid overfilling and spillage.

This Blows

After turning the engine compartment blower OFF for fueling, turn it back ON for a minimum of 4-5 minutes after fueling is complete.

Your Nose Knows

The good old sniff test may not be sophisticated, but it is effective. Before cruising away, open the engine hatch and sniff it for gas fumes as well as the bilge, interior or any other closed areas.

Get a Professional Inspection

Additionally, checking your hoses once a year at a minimum. Having a professional inspect the hoses is a worthwhile investment for the safety of your boat and its occupants. Pensacola Shipyard has on-site independent contractors who can perform safety inspections and as well as routine maintenance and repairs.

Our new diesel fueling station is the perfect place for you to fill up safely and conveniently before your next outing. Call Pensacola Shipyard today to discuss how we can help you enjoy safe and stress-free boating experiences.