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Boat Fire Lawsuit: What You Can Do to Prevent Boat Fire Accidents

Avoiding Boat Fire Lawsuits: What You Can Do to Prevent Boating Accidents 

There is nothing more freeing than going to the lake with your vessel and boating across the open waters on a sunny day. For the day, you get to leave your worries and daily responsibilities behind and enjoy the sights and sounds of the water.

While lake days are fun, you need to prepare for malfunctions, accidents and other problems you may have with your watercraft. Fortunately, operators can prevent many boating accidents with the proper safety measures, equipment and a plan. 

One type of particularly frightening mishap is a boat fire. A boating fire can happen in an instant and wreak havoc if you don’t react quickly. Check out some of our top tips to prevent boating fires and what to do if you’re injured by a boating fire.

Boating Accidents: How Do Fires Start?

Boat fires start from a variety of sources. In many cases, it has to do with the electrical components on the boat as they age and wear down. One survey on the cause of recreational boat fires revealed that the largest percentage of boat fire claims between 2015-2019 resulted from electrical problems. Other origins of boat fires include fuel leaks and engine malfunctions. 

Boating Fire Lawsuit: How Often Do Boating Fires Happen?

While boating fires aren’t the most common type of boating accident nationwide, they happen more often than you might think. According to a national recreational boating accident statistics report, in 2019, there were 249 fire-related boating accidents reported, resulting in 128 injuries and five deaths.

Boat Fire Prevention: What You Need to Know

Having the Right Equipment Onboard: Boat Fire Extinguishers 

State rules will vary on the type of boat fire extinguishers you need to have onboard. Recreational motorboats need to have a specific number and type of fire extinguishers according to the size of the motorboat. 

Types of Boat Fire Extinguishers

There are several types of fire extinguishers designed to combat different types of fires

  • Type A extinguishers are best used to eliminate flames originating from ordinary combustible materials like wood or paper.
  • Type B extinguishers are best used to eliminate flames originating from flammable liquids like gasoline. 
  • Type C extinguishers are best used to eliminate flames originating from electrical sources.
  • Type D extinguishers are best used to eliminate flames originating from flammable metals.

The most commonly required fire extinguisher for boats is the Type B extinguisher. Depending on the size of the boat, you may need one or several B1 or B2 extinguishers. B1 extinguishers are smaller than B2 extinguishers.

For a larger vessel, you may need a fixed fire extinguishing system. Fixed fire extinguishing systems are installed in the boat and spray fire-retardant chemicals in a specific area of or across the craft to eliminate flames. These systems can be automatically or manually activated.

Boat Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Here are some of the boat fire extinguisher requirements in Missouri:

  • Class I Boats: Every motorboat that’s between 16 and 26 feet in length, the boat needs one B1 type fire extinguisher
  • Class II Boats: Every motorboat between 26 and 40 feet needs one B2 or two B1 type fire extinguishers
  • Class III Boats: Every motorboat between 40 and 65 feet needs one of the following:
    • Three B1 type fire extinguishers
    • A fixed fire extinguishing system and one B2 type fire extinguisher
    • A fixed fire extinguishing system and two B1 type fire extinguishers

Boat Fire Prevention: Creating a Plan

If you own a boat and plan to go out on the water, you need a plan to deal with potential hazards, including boat fires. Here are some of the top boat fire prevention tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • Have a fire emergency plan and practice it– Map out where potential fires could start, where your fire extinguisher is and how you can quickly take out the flames. Don’t throw water on the fire as it may spread the flame.
  • Inspect electrical wiring, connections, cords and battery-charging equipment- Faulty electrical equipment is one of the main contributors to boat fires. Make sure you inspect your boat before going out on the water, especially if the vessel is 10 years old or older. As the boat ages, the likelihood of electrical failure rises. Get an annual inspection to make sure all of the components are in good shape.
  • Turn off and unplug unnecessary equipment when not in use- It’s good practice to avoid overheating appliances, which can cause a fire.
  • Only use certified chargers for personal electronics- This can help you avoid overloading the boat’s power outlets.
  • Inspect shore power connections for signs of damage- Shore power connection inspection is critical to preventing boat fires while you are at the dock. You want to make sure the onshore power terminal, cable and boat inlet are free of wear and tear.

After you’ve created a plan, you need to communicate to the other boaters what their role is in an emergency. Everyone who is on the boat should be aware of their responsibilities. Planning and communication can help reduce panic and poor decisions when an emergency arises.

Boat Fire Lawsuits: What If I Get Injured?

If you were injured by a boat fire, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages. While the state of Missouri doesn’t require liability insurance for boat owners, the owner of the boat may have coverage for fires. In that case, you should receive compensation from their insurance company after the accident.

If you are injured due to someone’s negligence, and they don’t have liability insurance for their boat, you can pursue compensation in the form of a personal injury lawsuit. Regardless of your options, it’s smart to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you navigate the murky waters of boat injuries. 

Contact Tolbert Beadle today to see how we can help you get on track to recovery. We will fight to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

For more advice on boating safety, check out some of our other content to prevent accidents and injuries: