Marina Owners: Prevent Dry Storage Building Fires

View from below of the hulls of motorboats racked one above another on two levels in a dry rack boat storage facility against blue sky.

Marina Owners: Prevent Dry Storage Building Fires 

Dry stack storage is a huge part of most marina businesses.  Boat storage brings in a lot of revenue, especially if you experience any type of off-season.  While dry storage is your bread and butter, it also presents risks of fire if you don’t take the proper precautions.  One of the biggest mistakes some marina owners make is storing things such as lawnmowers, batteries, and battery chargers in their dry stack building.  This presents a huge fire risk to your dry stack storage building and everything inside it.  Signal Connect recommends you don’t store these and similar items in your dry storage area.

While keeping your dry stack area free of flammable materials is a good idea, that shouldn’t be your entire fire safety plan.  There are many things you should do to help protect your boat storage area and all the expensive craft that’s stored there.  Fire prevention protects your business as well as your customers’ boats that are stored there.  That’s why this information, which we got from other marina owners, is so important.

Electricity and Your Marina’s Dry Storage Building

Electricity is a tool that helps everyone, but it also can be a fire hazard, especially in your marina’s dry stack area.  This is why the marina owners we talked to recommended limiting the amount of electricity in a dry stack storage area.  Why?  Because these areas have petrochemical vapors and/or pulverized dust in the air, which can be ignited by electricity.  Many of these marine professionals don’t even have wall sockets in their boat storage shed.  Here are two other electrical tips they had to offer: 

  1. Explosion-Proof Lighting: While marina owners should severely limit the amount of electricity going into their dry stack storage area, there is one thing you should have.  Experts recommend installing hazard location lighting, aka intrinsically safe lights or explosion-proof lighting.  Having these overhead in your boat storage area will help you and your staff when you’re working after dark.
  2. Disconnect Battery Switches: The batteries in your customers’ boats are a source of electricity that are also the cause of many dry storage fires. Since you are in charge of how these vessels are stored at your business, you should require that all boat owners disconnect their battery switches before storage.  You and your crew should check to make sure this is done before storing the boat.  (In case the boat owner forgets, of course.)  Disconnecting boat batteries isn’t a guaranteed fire-proofing, but it goes a long way to help reduce your risks.

Building Improvements to Reduce Fire Risk

Marina owners should be concerned about fires in your dry storage area.  These instances make up a large number of accidents and damages that occur at marinas.  Because this is a serious risk, there are improvements you can make to reduce the risk of fires in this part of your business.  If the cost of these improvements seems high, just compare it to your insurance rates when they skyrocket after your business has a fire.  Here are five things you should add to your dry storage area: 

  1. Sprinkler System: Many marina owners have sprinkler systems installed in their dry stack area. The reason for this is simple: In the event of a fire, these sprinklers might keep your building and its contents from going up in flames.  There are many things you can add to this system, including foam injection for improved fire suppression, and auto call to the fire department in your area.  Do your research and ask questions before choosing a sprinkler system.
  2. Burnout Panel Skylights: Burnout panel skylights provide lighting for your forklift operator during the day. In case of a fire, these translucent fiberglass panels are designed to melt at a low temperature.  This lets the heat and smoke out of your dry stack warehouse, and the column of smoke increases your chances of having someone see it and call 911.
  3. Building Separation: Adding firewalls or modules to separate your dry stack area from the rest of your marina is more than just a good idea.  In case of a fire, these firewalls/modules will keep the damage contained, instead of allowing the flames to spread to your entire business.
  4. Heat Detectors: The marina owners we talked to all have heat detectors inside their boat storage warehouses. These devices all include an auto call to their local fire department.  This helps get firefighters to the marina as quickly as possible in case of a fire.
  5. Separate Racks: Wash and clean boats on racks that are separate from the boats your staff is repairing. Since boats that are being repaired have a higher potential for causing a fire, it’s best to keep these vessels out of your dry storage building overnight.  This is a straightforward policy that nearly any marina owner can use.

Plan Ahead, Marina Owners!

There’s an old military axiom that states, “proper previous planning prevents poor performance.”  This can apply to the dry storage area of marinas, too.  The marina owners we talked with all suggested having a variety of policies and practices in place to help reduce the chance of a fire, and to help protect you in case one does. Here are their three tips:

  1. No Customers Policy: Many marina owners do not allow customers in their dry stack storage building. They don’t even allow them to go back there to retrieve something from their boats.  Those who do will have a member of their staff go with the customer, or take care of whatever the customer needs for them.  It’s always best to encourage customers to get everything they need off the boat before it goes into storage.
  2. Emergency Plan: It makes sense for marina owners to establish an emergency plan for situations that involve a fire. You and your staff should regularly have drills to see how well everyone follows through with their part of this plan.  Marina owners who don’t practice their emergency plans can expect the worst possible scenario in an emergency.
  3. Insurance: Every marina owner should have the most comprehensive insurance coverage that includes protection of your dry stack storage area. This is really a no-brainer, but we’ll say it anyway because the marina owners we talked to stressed its importance.  It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that you need an insurance provider that specializes in marine coverage.

Now Something Fun for Marina Owners

No marina owner wants to think about a fire in their dry storage building.  That’s why we shared these tips to help you prevent this from happening.  Now, let’s talk about something that’s much more enjoyable – DIRECTV for your marina.  When it comes to your business, DIRECTV is probably one of the best amenities for your guests.  If you put this premier satellite TV service in your clubhouse, for example, you give guests a reason to stay longer… and order more food and drinks.  You do want to increase your profits, right? You can also recommend Satellite TV Service for each of the customers who own vessels in your marina.  Signal Connect may even be able to compensate you for your referrals.  How cool is that?

Signal Connect is an AT&T Preferred Dealer that specializes in commercial DIRECTV accounts.  Our marine experts have provided DIRECTV accounts for marina owners, and they can help you, too.  You probably have a lot of questions about this satellite TV service.  We understand, since it represents an investment in your business.  Your Signal Connect rep will answer any questions you might have.  Just take a moment to fill out the form below and click “submit.”  Someone from Signal Connect will follow up with you.