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Maryland Marina Fire Proves Benefits of Working with BoatUS Foundation on Fuel Spill Prevention

Free Spill Kits and Online Spill Training for Staff
A recent marina fire shows that having a spill kit ready is critical to keeping fuel out of the water. Marinas can get one for free from the BoatUS Foundation (credit: Harwood/Gardner)

When a fire broke out recently aboard a 40-foot powerboat stored ashore at the 500-slip Bowleys Marina on the eastern outskirts of Baltimore, marina staff were prepared. Long before flames had lit the afternoon sky and then being safely doused by the fire department, spill prevention equipment was pre-positioned on the facility’s grounds. However, with much of that gear located near the docks, it was the absorbents contained in a newly arrived, no-cost BoatUS Foundation Spill Prevention kit that staff were able to use to prevent dozens of gallons of gasoline from entering the bay.

How did Bowleys get the no-cost spill kit? By taking the free, online BoatUS Foundation “Spill Prevention and Response for Marina Staff” course at and completing a post-course questionnaire. The Foundation is continuing this offer to all marinas with fuel docks on a first-come, first-served basis until spill kit supplies run out. Included in the weatherproof 30-gallon size storage container are absorbent pads, pillows, booms and other spill clean up materials.

Said Bowley’s Assistant Manager Tony DiVenere, “After taking the course and completing the survey, I was surprised by the size and completeness of the kit. Honestly, I expected to receive a small baggie with a pamphlet and a couple of diapers. I hadn’t even had a chance to put it away when the boat went up in flames. We used every last piece of the kit and no fuel made it down any storm drains or out into the Chesapeake. We have always focused on potential spills on the water, however, we will now always ensure that an additional spill kit is located upland.”

Speaking about the online course, DiVenere added, “Winter is the perfect time for our staff to take the online spill prevention course, and as we plan for next season, our summer hires will complete it as well.

The course was made possible by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with expertise provided by Washington Sea Grant and looks at practical topics, such as how to know when a boat fuel tank is full. Additional content includes a look at different types of oil and fuel products at marinas and how to handle each safely, legally and carefully; impacts on the environment; ways to identify spill prone activities and best practices to prevent a spill; safety concerns and precautions needed with handling oil and fuel; how spill prevention and response laws impact refueling facilities; how to prepare for what steps to take if you do have a spill. For more, go to


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