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First responders share difficulties of battling boat fires

DECATUR, Ala. – Boat residents at Riverwalk Marina are feeling uneasy after seeing the devastation in Scottsboro Monday afternoon. Residents said the news...

DECATUR, Ala. – Boat residents at Riverwalk Marina are feeling uneasy after seeing the devastation in Scottsboro Monday afternoon. Residents said the news made them more aware about the safety concerns that come with owning a vessel.

Decatur Fire Marshal Battalion Chief Jason Jones said, “”When you see something like that you just know it’s going to be a tragic event.”

Jones said that fighting boat fires comes with a lot of complications. The main complication being the amount of flammable material that is found on a boat. Aside from the fuel that is required to operate a vessel, house boats often times hold propane tanks on board to fuel cooking needs. House boats are also wired for electrical needs, which can cause a problem as well.

Propane becomes a boiling liquid when used, which means it expands. The expansion can potentially cause explosions when excessive heat is applied.

“The cooler you can keep the boat, the more likely you are to prevent an explosion from happening,” said Jones.

Luckily, the City of Decatur has not had the size of destruction, that Scottsboro saw, at any of their marinas before. But Jones said his firefighters are trained on boat fires just as they are land fires.

“They plan out ‘what if’ scenarios. What if something happens? How would we do it? Where would we connect to a hydrant? How much hose would we use for this? Where would we stage a truck?” He added.

He said the only problem with this is it never fully prepares them for worst case scenarios.

Decatur Fire & Rescue has volunteered their crews to help out in Scottsboro whenever needed.

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