What Should You Do If a Boat Motor Catches Fire

What should you do if a boat motor catches fire is one of the safety topics that safety professionals teach a lot.

That is why it is very important to be safety certified if you are a professional boat operator.

Even if you have a small boat where you drive around for fun, you still need to be knowledgeable when it comes to boat safety.

One of the things you will learn when you pass through a boat safety course is how to extinguish boat outboard engine fire.

When a boat motor catches fire, turn off the fuel supply, turn boat downwind and put off the fire with a fire extinguisher.

This will help reduce the severity of the casualty.

In this guide, you will learn how to put off fire from a boat outboard engine.

What Should You Do If a Boat Motor Catches Fire

1) Turn Off Boat Motor

When you discover that your boat outboard motor is on fire, the first thing you have to do is to stop the boat.

This will cut the demand of fuel from the engine.

This will go a long way in reducing the volume of fuel that might still keep the fire burning.

After you have turned off the boat outboard motor, make sure that the remaining people in the boat are moved far from the burning outboard motor.

2) Turn Off Boat Motor Fuel Supply

After you have shutdown the engine of the boat, the next thing you are going to do is to make sure that you completely cut off supply of fuel from the outboard motor fuel tank.

This is to make sure that more volume of fuel does not feed the burning boat engine when boat motor catches fire.

This will help reduce the burn impact that the outboard motor will sustain.

To shutdown fuel supply from an outboard engine, make sure you turn off the fuel supply knob that sends fuel out of the fuel tank.

3) Turn Off Gas Cylinders

One of the most catastrophic incidents of fire occur when a burning object gets in contact with gas.

This leads to a high degree burn and in worse cases leads to death from explosion.

That is why you have to make sure that  you off the gas supply in the boat if there is any present in the boat.

4)Keep Extra Fuel Tank Far From The Fire

Most of the times it is advisable to carry an extra volume of reserve fuel along when you are boating.

This is always important if the fuel tank in your outboard motor is small and may not be enough for a long journey.

In such an instance, you need to carry a reserve volume of fuel along incase the one in the outboard motor finishes.

In the case in which the outboard motor of your boat catches fire, you have to relocate the extra fuel tank to a place that is far from the fire.

This is to make sure that the fire from the outboard motor does not melt the rubber of the fuel tank.

If this happens, then the severity of the burn will be very deadly.

This will lead to the total destruction of the boat and also render serious injury to the passengers onboard.

To avoid this, make sure that you relocate the backup fuel container to a cool spot on the boat while you battle to put off the outboard motor fire.

5) Turn The Boat Downwind

When an outboard motor burns, it produces fire.

The fire is accompanied with other pollutants which is smoke.

This is very dangerous to the passengers onboard when the smoke is inhaled.

To make sure that the smoke does not distract the passengers onboard the boat, make sure that you position the boat downwind.

In the downwind position, the wind will help blow the fire and smoke away from the direction of the passengers on the boat.

This will go a long way in helping to reduce the risk the boat passengers might face if they inhale the smoke from the burning outboard motor.

6) Use a Fire Extinguisher

Before a boat departs, it is always very important to make sure that the items on the pre-departure checklist are not missing.

Some of these items are the fire extinguisher and the life jackets.

The life jackets present must be enough to go around all the passengers onboard with a spare in case anyone malfunctions.

Also the fire extinguisher in the boat must not be at a low level.

It must be fully filled so that it can be used to easily put off fire on the boat when such a need arises.

So what you should do if a boat catches fire is to make sure that you use the fire extinguisher on the boat to put off the fire.

This will help in reducing the level of casualty that could have occurred if there was no fire extinguisher.

7) Be Kitted With a Personal Floating Device

Another important thing to do when a boat motor catches fire is to make sure that everybody on the boat is well kitted with a life jacket.

This is because when there is a fire on a boat, the passengers must prepare for the worse.

This is because sometimes when a boat catches fore, the equipments available in the boat to efficiently put off the fire at a quick pace may be limited.

When this happens, the fire may bring more casualties.

At the worse case, the whole boat may be totally burnt.

This will really affect the safety of the passengers that are onboard the boat.

To keep the passengers and other people on the boat safe, it is very necessary that everybody wears a life jacket.

This is to make sure that if the fire on the boat outboard motor gets too severe and affects other parts of the boat, people can jump into the water to avoid being burnt by the fire.

In that way, they can remain afloat till a rescue team arrives.

But this could be very dangerous  if the passengers jump into a water that is too cold.

This will lead to cases of hypothermia when the water is too cold.

At such point, people will start dying in the water if the rescue team does not arrive early.

That is why it is extremely important to arrest a fire outbreak in a boat outboard motor early before it spreads to other parts of the boat.

At such point, the casualty and loss will be reduced.

Putting on your life jacket is one of the important things you  should do if a boat motor catches fire.

8) Move All Passengers To a Safe Place

When a boat motor catches fire, the passengers will really be afraid and will panic.

To avoid this, the boat operator should direct them to a safe place they should stay while the fire in the boat is being put off.

This will help the boat operator and other officials on the boat concentrate while putting off the fire.

Where the passengers will be kept should not be a place that is airtight or congested.

This is to help avoid cases of suffocation and stampeding.  

9) Call For Help

When a boat motor catches fire, it may not be in a good condition to power again after the fire has been put off.

This can really be bad if the boat motor caught fire in a place where other boats are not frequently passing.

This could take long for the passengers to reach their destination if a rescue boat does not arrive on time.

That is why it is good to call for help early once you discover that the outboard motor is really damaged.

This can be done with a cell phone or any other device you can use to communicate.

Also if other ships are far apart from you, you should make use of the public address system in the boat to reach out to other boats and ask for help.

This will help bring help to your crew faster.


In most of the safety trainings you will enroll in, you will likely be asked what should you do if a boat motor catches fire.

Also if you encounter a situation in which your outboard boat motor catches fire, make sure you apply the lessons in this guide to reduce the level of damage.

It will help save lives as well as save the boat from an extensive damage caused by the fire.

Further Reading

What makes Someone Fall Overboard In a Boat Trip

What Happens When Someone Falls Overboard

Important Steps To Take When Someone Falls Overboard

How To Lower Boat Insurance Rate

What Causes Boat To Vibrate When Speed Increases

What Causes Boat Outboard Motor Fire

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