Fire-related incidents are one of the top causes of boat loss. According to BoatUS Marine Insurance, between the years of 2008 and 2013, boat fires ranked number five among causes for boat loss. Like many of the causes of boat loss, the key to preventing boat fires is awareness. In today’s blog, we here at Maui Worx would like to share with you some of the top things to look for when it comes to preventing a boating fire. For a more comprehensive look at this list, check out this BoatUS Magazine article.

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The Most Common Causes of Boat Fires

Off-Boat Sources

According to BoatUS Marine Insurance, 26 percent of boat fires are triggered by off-the-boat sources. These sources include neighboring boats, houses, garages, and more. In many of these cases, a marina fire is often the culprit. Although this can be the hardest type of fire to personally control, it is important that all boaters look to not just keep their own boats safe, but also the boats and property of those around them. 

Engine Electrical

A little under a quarter of all boat fires were caused by electrical problems in the engine. In most boats 25 years or older, for example, wiring harnesses and starters are one of the main causes. If you are the owner of an old, vintage boat, consider visiting a boat repair shop and consulting with a boat electrician. Even if your boat is using a wiring harness that is no longer made, most boat electricians will be able to help put together a custom — and much safer — wiring harness.

Other DC Electrical

Although loose battery connections, old battery switches, and chafed battery cables are all causes of fires, the most common battery-related fire, however, involves operator error. For example, when disconnecting and then reconnecting batteries, users will often reverse cables, connecting them improperly. To avoid this from happening, photograph and label your battery configuration before you do any work. And if you are ever in doubt, be sure to contact marine electricians.

AC Electrical

Customizing your boat with features like microwaves, air conditioners, heaters, and other AC appliances can definitely improve the comfort of your boat. However, with this increase in comfort comes an increase in fire risk. According to this survey, most AC-related fires begin somewhere between the marina pedestal and the shore-power inlet on the boat. If you are using AC appliances, it is crucial that you use only marine-grade power cords, and that any time you notice signs of wear, you replace them immediately. Additionally, for owners of older boats, consider replacing the shore-power inlet. Old versions will likely increase the risk of a boat fire. Marine electricians can easily point out some key marine electrical services that will improve the function and safety of your boat.

Engine Problems

Almost 10 percent of boat fires begin by a problem with the engine — overheating, blockages of the raw-water intake, or impeller failure, to name a few. If your engine overheats, don’t ignore this. Check the engine compartment before you carry on. Similarly, if you have an older boat or you have been boating in dirty, sediment-heavy waters, keep a close eye on your impeller. Additionally, impellers should be changed roughly every other year.


Another common source of boat fires is battery-related problems. Around 8 percent of boat fires are caused by batter-related issues. This is especially common for boats with older outboards. In such cases, the voltage regulator is often the main cause. If your regulator is 10 years or older, keep in mind that the failure rate increases. Visiting a boat repair shop, and having the regulator inspected and replaced can give you peace of mind and ensure your day out on the boat isn’t spoiled.

Being aware of this list and inspecting your boat to make sure these items are in good condition can not only help reduce the risk of fire on your boat, but it can also improve the safety of all those around you. If you are in need of marine maintenance, marine surveying, marine electrical services, leather, vinyl, and fabrication repair, thermography, and more, contact us today at 505-675-1005.