A safer crew & yacht

Peter Watson DG Maritime Peter Watson from DG Maritime discusses the importance of continued professional development and bringing new training modules to the industry and specifically the latest Lithium-ion battery firefighting course

In 2022 a client asked me a question about a specific make of fire extinguisher for use on Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery fires. The first action was to carry out some research on the extinguishers and the one major concern I had, involved a crew member having to be within one and a half to two metres of the fire to apply the contents of the extinguisher. After discussions with my fellow training associates, we realised there may have to be a change in the firefighting procedures we teach when dealing with Li-ion battery fires.

The other area of concern was for mariners who carry out their initial International Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) for basic and advanced firefighting. They have to do updating training every five years at a shore based maritime firefighting school and for some, this means waiting a long period of time before they had any continuing professional development (CPD) training on the issues of Li-ion battery fires.

Believing there was a training need and to ensure that mariners have CPD, we decided to develop an online training module that the whole crew could attend. This included those that were off on rotation as they could remotely log in to the training. By doing this, we could update crews about the issue more quickly than waiting for their STCW updating training.

During the development of the course, the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) released the draft of “MGN 681(M) – Fire safety and storage of small electric powered craft on yachts” for consultation. We took the opportunity to be involved in the consultation which allowed us to feedback such things as the proximity to the fire a crew member would need to be in order to try and extinguish the fire with a handheld fire extinguisher.

We felt it was important to wait until MGN 681(M) was published before launching the training programme, thus ensuring there were no discrepancies between the MGN and what we planned to teach.

We eventually launched the training at the end of August 2023 with twelve of our clients taking up the training between September and December of the same year.

The rationale behind our training is to ensure the safe handling, storage and operation of Li-ion batteries including safe firefighting procedures to deal with the problem.

DG MaritimeLi-ion batteries can pose fire and explosion risks if mishandled or damaged. Appropriate training helps individuals understand the risks and teaches how to mitigate them thereby enhancing overall safety. By educating crew members on best practices for li-ion battery handling, our training reduces the likelihood of accidents and incidents that could result in a serious incident, injury or even fatalities.

This online training can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, allowing the whole crew to attend the training, whether they’re on the yacht, on shore leave or at home. It also eliminates the need for travel expenses associated with attending a fire school or bringing trainers onboard.



Online training ensures that all crew members receive the same standardised information and instruction, promoting consistency in safety protocols and procedures across the entire crew.

For the learning outcomes of the training course, we thought it was important that students understand the following areas:

  • The salient points of MGN 681(M) in relation to firefighting procedures, in particular the extreme dangers of the products of combustion from a Li-ion battery fire and the dangers that can be encountered post incident when carrying out clean up of the fire compartment.
  • The basic principles and components of how a Li-ion battery works, including the different types of batteries that can be found on the market.
  • Care and maintenance of Li-ion batteries ensuring that manufacturer’s instructions are always followed.
  • The causes of ‘thermal runaway’ and how propagation throughout a Li-ion battery develops.
  • The constituents of the products of combustion and the dangers to life they present to crew should they inhale these products of combustion.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the handheld firefighting equipment for dealing with Li-ion battery fires and other types of fire suppressors.
  • How fixed firefighting systems perform during a Li-ion battery fire.
  • Recommended firefighting techniques for both internally and externally on the vessel.
  • Fire investigation and post incident considerations.

Due to the rapid growth in Li-ion battery usage there is an increasing likelihood of encountering a Li-ion battery fire. This Li-ion battery fire training raises the awareness of the risks associated with Li-ion batteries.

Fighting Li-ion battery fires requires specialised knowledge and techniques due to the unique characteristics of these batteries. Training ensures responders are equipped with the necessary skills to mitigate such incidents safely.

Overall, Li-ion battery fire training is essential for ensuring the safety of individuals, property, and the environment in the face of the growing prevalence of Li-ion battery technology.

The Li-ion Battery training is just one course in the portfolio of courses we provide at Da Gama Maritime. We have a team of five training associates, all of whom have expertise in maritime firefighting training with knowledge gained from careers as professional firefighters and almost 150 years of service between them.

For more details visit www.dgmaritime.com