Your browser is unsupported and may have security vulnerabilities! Upgrade to a newer browser to experience this site in all it's glory.
Skip to main content
  • About Us
  • Your Safety
  • Careers
  • Newsroom
  • Your Local Area
  • Contact Us

It’s time for all boats to have suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms


During the Fire Kills Campaign’s Boat Fire Safety Week, Humberside firefighters will be taking the message to boaters – It’s time for all boats to have suitable smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

Fire crews will be visiting boat owners across the area this week handing out Fire Safety on Boats and Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats leaflets to help crew members know the risks and how to protect themselves.

Timed for the start of the boating season, the heart of the message is that all crew members should understand the risks and follow the published advice from the Boat Safety Scheme in its leaflets and on its website.

Despite all efforts, should fire break out or a CO escape occur, the critical survival factor will be the presence of suitable working smoke and CO alarms. The Scheme publishes lists of suitable alarms on its website and has advice from the manufacturers on the best places to fix the devices. Alarms should be tested using the test button routinely and the batteries replaced as necessary and never removed.

Boat Safety Scheme manager, Kevin Tyson said:

“Too many lives have been lost and people hurt in boat fires and due to CO poisoning.

“The boating community can embrace the idea of ‘no more avoidable tragedies’. Being protected by suitable smoke and CO alarms should be viewed as a normal part of boat ownership.”

For further information about general boat fire and CO safety, visit

Carbon Monoxide (CO) information: CO is a highly toxic poison that cannot be heard, seen, felt, tasted or smelt – it’s sometimes called the silent killer for good reason. It is the result of an incomplete or inefficient burn of any carbon-based fuel including wood, charcoal, coal, petrol, diesel, propane and butane.

It can happen on a boat with one or a mix of these factors:

• Faulty, badly maintained or misused appliances;

• Exhaust fumes from a boat’s engine or generator;

• Escaped flue gases from solid fuel stoves;

• Blocked ventilation or short supply of air (fuel needs oxygen to burn safely).

In recent years, solid fuel stoves and engine or generator exhaust gases have been responsible for most CO poisoning deaths of boaters.

Advice for choosing CO alarms suitable for boats, including a current list from the manufacturers can be found on this BSS web page:

Fire information: Fire prevention is always the primary protection from fire on boats but a smoke alarm can be the next line of defence, particularly if craft occupants sleep aboard.

Smoke from a boat fire will affect the ability to breathe, a sensation similar to drowning. With two to three breaths of toxic smoke the boat user could be unconscious. A working smoke alarm of the right type can warn very quickly of the danger and buy precious seconds to escape.

Advice choosing smoke alarms suitable for boats, including a current list from the manufacturers can be found on this BSS web page

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) helps to minimise the risks of fires or explosions on boats cruising the UK's inland waterways network, by specifying a set of requirements that most boats must meet before they can be granted a navigation licence. The Scheme also promotes 'safety best practice' measures that support skippers in keeping themselves and their crews’ safe.

For further information, please contact Rob McLean, Communications Manager at the BSS, on 0333 202 1000 or email on