Boat Fires

It’s not the first, it certainly won’t be the last. I seem to be investigating, assessing, repairing and signing off a rather worrying amount of boat fire related work just recently. Only last week did I look at a river cruiser that had suffered substantial fire damage caused by some rather “interesting” charging circuits which had been added to make a 12v engine charge a 24v battery bank for an inverter on board… not sure what it was all about… all very strange.

The owner had been on board and noticed a popping sound, followed shortly by some smoke coming from under the engine hatch. If it wasn’t for his quick response, he would have most certainly lost his boat. Even after the fire was put out, there were some more horrors waiting, as the tops of the batteries in the aft cabin blew off. Fortunately the batteries were contained under the aft bunk, in a battery box, so damage and fallout was contained. Dangerous stuff!

Another recent example unrelated to the above…

This vessel was less than 15 minutes from going up in smoke. Luckily, again, the owner was on board and managed to catch it before the fire started. The above image was an ammeter feed which had been added to a panel without any fuses protecting the circuit. Only by luck did the wire burn though, effectively acting as a fuse, otherwise the circuit would have continued to act like an electric heater until the surrounding engine room insulation and panelling caught fire.

You have to wonder what this is all about…

It was me that cut the wires, but apart from cutting the wires, this is what state the box was in after me removing the front cover. A healthy dose of block connectors, twisted joints covered in insulation tape and an unearthed water heater supply!

Another recent find…

No earth supply onto the boat whatsoever. Electric radiators, hairdryer, toaster, etc on use on board. In the event of any of these appliances failing; somebody could have been in for a nasty shock!

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