A major fire raced through a marina in the Miami district of Coconut Grove, Florida, reducing four yachts to charred hulls. While no people were seriously injured in the blaze, the Grove Harbour Marina fire is estimated to have caused up to $7 million in property damages. Capt. Rand Pratt, owner of Sea Tow Key Biscayne, worked round-the-clock along with local firefighters, the U.S. Coast Guard and fellow Captains from four different Sea Tow locations to help fight the fire and clean up the marina in its aftermath.
“It was a real tragedy what happened to these beautiful yachts,” said Capt. Pratt. While there has been no determination of the cause of the Grove Harbour Marina yacht fire to date (an investigation is ongoing), he said this incident should remind all boaters to review and rehearse their fire-prevention practices.
Most boat fires are caused by fueling or electrical issues.
- Make sure you have the proper size and type of marine fire extinguishers for your boat. Depending on the size of your boat, you may need more than one fire extinguisher. The U.S. Coast Guard Federal Requirements are available online at BoatSafe.com.
- Mount the fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location so you can get to it in an emergency.
- Inspect your fire extinguishers regularly to make sure they are fully charged.
- Before fueling, have all passengers leave the boat and shut off all flames (stoves, ovens, grills, etc.). Close all windows, doors and openings to prevent fumes from entering the boat.
- While fueling, keep the nozzle in contact with the tank to prevent sparks and do not overfill the tank, so you leave room for the fuel to expand. Do not smoke! Wipe up any spills and dispose of the rags.
- After fueling, open all the windows, doors and openings and run the exhaust blower for four minutes.
- Before starting the engine, perform a “sniff” test of the bilge and engine compartment. If you smell gas, continue to use the blower until all of the fumes are gone.
- To prevent electrical issues, inspect the electrical connections in your boat frequently. Also, inspect any shore power connection lines that you may be using before plugging them into your boat. If any wires are frayed or you see sparks, immediately shut off the power source and get the issue repaired before using it again.
- Be cautious when using heaters in enclosed spaces, especially when unattended.
How to Deal with a Fire
- If a fire does break out on your boat, make sure everyone puts on a life jacket.
- If possible, position the boat so the fire is downwind. Turn off the engine and any other electrical equipment.
- NEVER use water on a gasoline, oil, grease or electrical fire.
- Get your fire extinguisher ready to use. Use the PASS method.
- Pull pin
- Aim at the base of the fire
- Squeeze handle
- Sweep from side to side
- Call for help on your VHF Radio or cell phone. Prepare to abandon ship.