Accidental fires in the home cause the majority of fire fatalities and injuries and as a result, Fire and Rescue Services focus their preventative work on the people and places most at risk from these fires.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) carry out over 83,000 Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) to residents of London every year. Houseboat owners are residents of London, albeit some on a temporary basis. Fires on boats have killed approximately 30 people in the last 20 years and over the last 10 years LFB have attended 117 fires on boats.

Boats have small living spaces, much the same size as a small bedsit. However, they are also sealed containers, essential for keeping water out, but also equally effective at retaining gases and fumes. Many boats have multiple potential sources of fire and carbon monoxide (CO). They may also have multiple engines and appliances for cooking, heating and lighting. Some of these will be powered on or in use whilst occupants are sleeping.

This research project aims to give a much more informed picture of CO levels on houseboats in London. The aim is to carry out project-tailored HFSVs for houseboat residents in London. This will not only make them more aware of the risks of CO and fire, but also identify whether there are any identifiable trends, such as a seasonal variation in CO levels. It will also create a clearer picture of the demographics of London’s houseboat population.

The findings of this project will be used to influence advice given to boaters by boat regulators, subject to their consent.

The aim is that fire station crews will carry out 1,758 visits tailored to houseboat residents.

These HFSVs will include:

  • Houseboat specific advice on:
    • Fire safety
    • Carbon monoxide
  • Provision of:
    • Smoke alarms
    • CO alarms
    • CO logger (record levels of CO for a set period of time and send the data to Liverpool John Moores University for analysis)
    • Associated and tailored literature

Project in progress