More About Me | Boat Safety Scheme Examiner

My name is Greg Birkett aka Greg the Examiner, and I am a fully qualified and experienced Boat Safety Scheme Examiner. Based in Mellor, close to the Leeds and Liverpool and Lancaster canals, and very near to the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire, I am ideally placed to serve both of these counties as well as Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside.

I first got involved with boats some twenty plus years ago, firstly with a speed boat and then with a 23ft Norman Cruiser on the Lancaster Canal. It was this boat that led to me becoming passionate about everything to do with canals and why I decided to become a Boat Safety Scheme Examiner.

We soon realised that we really wanted a narrowboat so we purchased a Springer that required a full refit. All those years ago it was this boat that got me involved in fitting out boats for other people, both partial refits and full fit-outs. As I ran a joinery and building contractor business for most of my life it was just a natural progression, after all, though they seem radically different, the methodology of building a Narrowboat from start to completion is not too dissimilar to building any other home from scratch.

My mechanical background largely stems from the many years I spent as a reasonably successful motorcycle road racer, a sport I very much love to this day.

I qualified as a BSS Examiner in March 2015 which seemed to be a very natural add on to the boat fit-out work I was doing. I am fully insured and a member of the Association of Boat Safety Scheme Examiners (ABSSE) who give great support to examiners and their clients. 

So if your boat requires a new BSS Certificate, I can be contacted by phone, or email via my details listed here.


So What Exactly Is A
Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) Certificate?

All boats on certain inland waterways have to meet specific standards set out by the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) and are examined every 4 years by qualified examiners such as myself. The BSS scheme is largely about making sure your boat is safe to use and not a danger to others.

The procedure of the examination is not too dissimilar to the MOT that you require for your car in as much as both procedures have certain items that must meet certain standards and also items that are advisory.

If your boat was professionally built under the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) scheme, your boat will only need a BSC (Boat Safety Certificate) once it becomes four years old. If your boat is a self-build, not built under the RCD scheme, then it will require a BSS certificate before it can be used on the waterways. This initial certificate will expire after 4 years and then renewal will be required. Check out this film about the BSS>>>


Here Are Some Free
Important Safety Tips

Click on each of the images below to download PDFs that will give you information on fire safety, how to prevent carbon monoxide and how to safely fit a stove on your boat.

The Examination

Booking the examination

It is always wise to book your examination up to two months before the expiry of the current certificate, as this allows for any eventualities. Should your boat fail on something, this gives you time to rectify things without the panic of being caught out when it comes time to renew your licence. You won’t lose out as the expiry date for the new certificate will be four years after the expiry of the current certificate, so it does make sense to book early.

On the day of the examination

Once all the Examination Checking Procedures (ECPs) have been carried out, and hopefully your boat has passed, your pass will be registered with C&RT. You have the choice to have a copy of the certificate sent to you via email or a paper copy through the post. 

Should your boat fail on something, then you will be issued with a customer report form highlighting the issues that need to be addressed. I will be more than happy to guide you on ways to rectify things. Very often if you are present, some things can be addressed during the examination.

Preparing your boat for the Examination

  1. If you wish to see all the technical requirements that will be checked during your examination, then click this link. BSS Examination Checking Procedures.
  2. If you can have any relevant documentation such as the owner’s manual, current BSC, certificates of conformity, or equipment specification that you think may be needed, this would be most useful. These items contain lots of information that will help your examiner on the day.
  3. Fuel lines need to be inspected where they can be seen and reached. All gas pipe joints and fittings need to be readily accessible, as do final connections to appliances, so all access panels should be removed to allow access to test points etc. Gas lockers should be readily accessible and unlocked and also free of any loose items, other than the gas bottles. In addition, access to bow thrusters and their batteries needs to be accessible.
  4. It is essential that all boat systems are functional, so please have sufficient gas in the gas bottle to allow the system to be tested. In the case of an instantaneous water heater being present, please ensure there is water in your tank and enough charge in the battery to run the pump, to allow flame and spill tests to be carried out.

Here Are A Few
Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be in attendance during the examination?

No you don’t have to attend, but it is very much advised. As examiners we are not allowed to use any tools to access anything, so if there is something we can’t access, then this could result in a fail. It’s also very often the case that there may be something that could be rectified on the day by you that would otherwise result in a fail. If you can’t attend then it is not a problem. Just remember to ask any landowners for permission to allow me to gain access and attend. 

I live on my boat, so do I need to use a Gas Safe registered examiner?

The BSS requirement is that if the boat is your main residence and has a bubble tester, then no you don’t need a Gas Safe registered examiner. However if it does NOT have a bubble tester installed, then the gas system should be tested by a Gas Safe engineer, in the presence of the examiner. 

Does it matter that I have drained down the water for winter?

This is not a problem unless you have an instantaneous water heater. This is because we need to run the heater during the test, to check the flame pattern, or carry out a spill test. If you have an instantaneous water heater, then it’s important to have enough water on board to run the tap for 5-7 minutes. 

Do you need to run the engine during the examination?

No. It’s not necessary to run the engine.

What are the most common fail points you come across?

It’s usually very basic things such as the following:

  • Batteries not being secured after being removed or replaced.
  • Perished fuel or gas hoses, which often happens over time.
  • Corrosion around battery terminals.
  • It can be something that has been added to the boat since the last examination that is non-compliant.
  • Or perhaps some new requirements that may have been introduced such as the new carbon monoxide alarm requirements etc.

How much does it cost?

All boats are different, so the charges can be too, so please call me on 07973 672 421 for a quote. There will be no charge for travel costs if it’s within a 30 mile radius. 

There is no retest charge if carried out within 30 days. There is a charge of £40 thereafter, up to 12 weeks, beyond which it is a BSS requirement that a full retest is carried out.


Here’s How To
Contact Me

If you would like to book a BSS examination,
or simply want to find out more about the scheme,
then please feel free to get in touch.

Follow me on Facebook