Published on May 4, 2015.

Electric shock drowning isn’t the only problem faced by marinas and boatyards. Even so, these environments can often be unfamiliar to firefighters, electricians, and code enforcement officials. “Marina and Boatyard Protection: Unique Challenges for NFPA,” an education session at the upcoming NFPA Conference + Expo, seeks to change that by informing responders, enforcers, and other stakeholders of the hazards they can encounter at marinas and boatyards.

Enforcers can be “fish out of water—they just don’t know what to expect” in marina settings, said James Cote, principal of Cote Marine, a consulting, installation, and repair company, and a member of the technical committee for NFPA 303, Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards. For example, many boats have electrical systems that could present a risk of electric shock or fire; firefighters may falsely think they’re safe in the event of a fire because the marina’s power has been shut off, but a boat’s electrical system can continue to present a hazard. If boats in the water are still plugged into the marina’s power system, current can leak from one vessel to another, or back to components of the shore power distribution system, creating additional hazards. Other dangers include fuel stations with automatic pumps—which are not permitted by code but exist nevertheless—and the sheer amount of fuel on a boat. Many firefighting practices that are safe on land may not be safe in marinas, Cote said.

The educational session will cover an array of hazards as well as NFPA requirements related to marina electrical installations, fueling stations, firefighting, and the management and maintenance of marina systems. Fire officials, electrical contractors, and code enforcement officials with marinas in their jurisdictions are encouraged to attend.