Fueling Your Boat–Good Advice from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

Fueling Your Boat

WASHINGTON -A fire on a boat is frightening and, often, fatal.  When fueling, chances of a fuel fire are heightened.  Gasoline fumes are highly flammable.  Here are some precautions:

  • Close all of the windows and doors before refueling.
  • Frequently check fuel lines and connections for leaks and worn spots.
  • Be sure all electrical devices are turned off, as well as the engine.
  • When gasoline passes through the hose, it generates static electricity.  If that ‘sparks’ with the fumes at the fuel tank fill point, an explosion can occur.  To dissipate the static electricity, keep the metal nozzle of the hose in contact with the metal part of the refueling opening.
  • Try not to spill any fuel during the process.
  • When fueling is complete, securely fasten the gas cap.
  • Open up all windows and doors to ventilate.
  • If you have inboard or inboard/outboard engines run the bilge blower.  Run the fan for at least five minutes.  (It’s a good idea to run this blower before ANY engine start, since even a small leak can produce lots of fumes.)
  • NO SMOKING!

Use your nose!  If you smell gas, shut everything down and find the source.

Another fire hazard is cooking fires, either from propane tanks, stoves or grills.  Be sure all connections are tight.  Install a fire extinguisher close to the galley.

Boats less than 26’ must have at least one B-1 extinguisher.  Boats between 26’ and less than 40’ must have two B-1s or one B-2.  When buying your extinguishers buy the ones that have “ABC” printed on them.  They will put out combustible material and liquids (such as gasoline or grease), and electrical fires. The number indicates the capacity – II is larger than I.  As to how many and what size to buy, more and larger is the way to go.  Make sure fire extinguishers are Coast Guard approved.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer Component of the United States Coast Guard created by an Act of Congress in 1939. The Auxiliary, America’s Volunteer Guardians, supports the Coast Guard in nearly all of the service’s missions.