Smoke Alarm Survey

The BSS has organised two separate boat owner surveys concerning smoke alarms on boats, one addressing attitudes and behaviours and the other looking at the current level of smoke alarm take-up.

The purpose for carrying out this research was to inform a project the Scheme was tasked with, that is to consider the introduction of BSS Checks for working smoke alarms on boats as a means to reduce the spread of fire and to reduce the risk of harm to people and property.

The scope of both surveys concentrated on the two unregulated categories of boats in BSS Examinations, Private Boats and Non-Private Boats. Hire boats with overnight accommodation are currently regulated and require at least one suitable smoke alarm in good condition.

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) asked Morale Solutions to undertake a survey of boat owners to understand more about their attitudes and behaviours related to smoke alarms and wider fire safety. The survey ran during March – April 2021. We are extremely grateful to all the many hundreds of participants.

The second survey ran for a year from September 2021 to September 2022 and comprised of a collection of several thousand voluntary observations by BSS Examiners concerning the use, or non-use of smoke alarms on boats that they were examining. Examiners reported how many smoke alarms they saw on the boat that they were examining, and how many of the alarms that were fitted, activated when the test button was pressed. We are also incredibly grateful to the examiners who made and recorded their smoke alarm observations in very impressive numbers.

The combined research has shown that there is a significant support for the use of smoke alarms and awareness of fire safety. The attitudinal survey and the evidence of the Examiner’s smoke alarm survey on Canal & River Trust waterways show that there is a majority willing to have alarms on their boats.

However, there are areas where there are challenges to meet. These issues are both geographical, probably where the leisure use of boats predominates, and an educational task related to concerns about false activation or the appropriateness of smoke alarms for smaller craft.

Although slightly more positively, inertia (‘getting round to it’) featured in a quarter of the respondents’ answers participating in the attitudes survey, who did not have an alarm.

Please read the two reports for the full picture.

A copy of the Attitudes and Behaviours Survey Report by Morale Solutions is available [Link]

A copy of the research of the field observations of smoke alarms by BSS Examiners is available here [Link]