Here's where the danger of fire lurks

Electrical Equipment: Electrical systems are the main cause of on-board fires. Old cables, defective insulation, corrosion, or dirty contacts lead, time and again, to short circuits or increased transition resistance. The basic principle is: The older the ship, the greater the likelihood of a fire caused by the electrical system. Moreover, destinations that are especially warm and humid, such as the Caribbean, are not exactly beneficial for electrical systems. The contacts for the on-board electronic system should be regularly inspected and, when necessary, cleaned. There are special contact sprays designed specifically for use in a maritime environment, which protect against short circuits, outages, and corrosion caused by wet or damp conditions.

Pantry and Galley: Motorboats and sailboats often have a pantry equipped with a gimballed gas stove. The gas taps should always be kept closed when not in operation. This goes for both the shut-off valve on the gas tank and the gas tap in the pantry and on the stove. This serves to prevent gas from leaking out even when one of the shut-offs is defective. The installation and relocation of gas equipment should be undertaken only by a qualified professional. Otherwise, in the event of damage, it may lead to loss of insurance coverage.  A gas explosion can have deadly consequences. A further piece of advice: have gas equipment inspected every two years by a qualified professional.

Engine: In particular, boats operated with a petrol-fuelled inboard motor present a certain potential danger. Since petrol is a volatile substance, combustible gases can quickly develop. This is why fresh-air intake through ventilation units, so-called blowers, is so important.  Absent ventilation, the petrol-air mixture could ignite when starting the engine. For this reason, the proper functioning of the blower should be checked regularly. 

Heating and Ventilation: Heating equipment can be the cause of fire in many respects. For instance, lubricants or sail bags inadvertently tossed in front of vents can cause melt damage. Not infrequently, a kink in the ventilator line leads to a hot-air blockage. And that poses a threat of fire, since ventilation lines are usually made of nothing more than aluminium-covered cardboard. In addition, exhaust lines create increased risks, since they get particularly hot. Cable ties located near the gas line can melt and cause a short circuit. For this reason, installation should be performed by a professional. Caution is also warranted with fan heaters, since the open coils and filaments have caused many fires.    

Arson: Sad but true – arson remains a very common cause of fire. Not infrequently, the perpetrators are simply out to destroy and vandalise, but in many cases, insurance fraud is also the motive.

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