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What Is The Requirement For Fire Extinguishers On A Boat?

Need to know “What Is The Requirement For Fire Extinguishers On A Boat“? Look no further, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about boat fire extinguishers and provide you with tips on how to choose the right fire extinguisher for your specific boat. When it comes to boating safety, fire extinguishers are an important tool to have on hand, and understanding how they work will allow you to make informed decisions when it time comes to buy one.

The United States Coast Guard requires that boats over 25 feet long have fire extinguishers on board. Fire extinguishers should be present on boats of all sizes and in all locations, with the most important ones being located near the engine room, galley, and main living quarters. There are five types of fire extinguishers required by the United States Coast Guard (USCG): carbon dioxide (CO2), multi-purpose dry chemical (AFFF), sodium bicarbonate, halon and water mist.

Understanding The Types of Fires Boats Face

There are many types of fires you can find yourself dealing with when operating a vessel. It’s important to understand what each type means and which type can be fought with which fire extinguisher. So, let’s take a look at what we need to know about fighting fires in boats.


Here are some of the types of fires you could encounter in a boat:

1. Class A fires are wood, paper, cloth, rubber and other similar combustible materials. This type of fire should be fought with dry chemical or CO2 type extinguishers

2. Class B fires are those involving flammable liquids such as gas and oil. These types of fires should be fought with BC-type (or B) type extinguishers

3. Class C fires are those involving electrical equipment and can pose a shock hazard if not properly contained. These types of fires should be fought with dry powder or CO2 type extinguishers, etc.


Marine Fire Extinguisher Requirements

The United States Coast Guard states that all boats must have marine fire extinguishers (type B) installed and on board. These are typically located in engine rooms, storage compartments, or anywhere you might find fuel. It is also important to note that some countries require additional kinds of fire extinguishers depending on how big your boat is or what it is used for. You should research your country’s requirements before installing these devices.

There are also classes of marine fire extinguishers. Each class corresponds to different types of fires, and they can be further subdivided into regular, multipurpose, or special types.

Boat Fire Extinguisher (B) are of two main types:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF)

Boat Fire Extinguisher (B) – Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are great at putting out fires involving electrical equipment and they are also popular in marine settings because they do not leave residue.

Boat Fire Extinguisher (B) – Aqueous film-forming foam fire extinguishers are primarily used in marine applications because they’re highly effective at putting out fires that involve oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products. They also tend to leave fewer residues than carbon dioxide.

We have others like – Sodium bicarbonate, Halon and Water mist, etc.

Boat Fire Extinguisher Regulations

Effective April 20, 2022, any non-rechargeable (disposable) fire extinguisher that is older than 12 years should be removed from service. Refer to the date of manufacturing stamped on the bottle; for example, “05” means “2005.”

You are required by law to have a fire extinguisher on board if your boat has an engine and meets any of the following conditions:

  • Your boat has closed compartments where portable fuel tanks may be stored.
  • Your boat has a double bottom that is not sealed to the hull and that is not completely filled with flotation materials.
  • Your boat has closed living spaces.
  • Your boat has permanently installed fuel tanks.
  • Or if your boat has any inboard engine.

It is not required by law to carry a fire extinguisher on other types of boats but it is still highly recommended. Fires can happen unexpectedly and it’s always a smart idea to be prepared.


READ: Fire extinguisher classes and their colour codes


The following information is effective April 20, 2022 –

Vessels that have a model year of 2018 and newer may carry only 5-B or 20-B rated fire extinguishers with date stamp.

Vessels with a model year between 1953 and 2017 may carry either:

  • Unexpired 5-B or 20-B rated fire extinguishers.
  • Or B-I or B-II rated fire extinguishers that are in good and serviceable condition.

When required by the USCG, fire extinguishers must be on board a vessel and readily accessible—where they can be easily reached. When deciding on a place to store a fire extinguisher, make sure to consider how easy it is to reach in the event of a fire. It is recommended that the fire extinguisher be conspicuously and securely mounted on its intended hanger or bracket.

Now, let’s quickly review the number of and types of fire extinguishers you need on your boat.

  • If your boat is less than 26 feet, you need one 5-B fire extinguisher on board.
  • If your boat is between 26 and 40 feet, you need either two 5-B fire extinguishers or a single 20-B fire extinguisher.
  • And finally, if your boat is between 40 and 65 feet, you need either three 5-B fire extinguishers or one 20-B fire extinguisher and one 5-B fire extinguisher.


See other regulations


Best Place to Store Boat Fire Extinguisher

Smaller boats will have one or two fire extinguishers, but larger ones will require multiple fire extinguishers. Typically you will want to keep your fire extinguisher out of reach from possible damage, but also within easy access in case of an emergency. The best place to store your fire extinguisher on a boat depends on where it will be mounted and how many there are in total, but typically either under seats or below decks works well.

Just make sure to test your fire extinguisher monthly and have it serviced every few years. If you are unsure of how to use it, make sure you read all of the instructions that come with it before your next boating trip.


Cleaning and Service Schedule

One of your first priorities should be to clean and service your boat’s fire extinguishers as soon as you purchase it. The owner’s manual will include instructions for what type of cleaning chemicals to use, but most recommended products are made specifically for marine use. After that, make sure you service your fire extinguisher at least once every year.

After you clean and service your extinguisher, remember to test it as well. Most devices will have instructions for how to do so, but all you need to do is spray water or dry powder into it until you see signs of damage. This not only keeps your device in working order, but also helps ensure that it’s still effective when you need it most.


Types of Marine Fire Extinguishers

There are majorly two types of marine fire extinguishers, both designed to put out fires but with different properties.

Two kinds of agents are used in marine fire extinguishers—dry chemical and CO2 (carbon dioxide). Dry chemical is a powder that smothers flames by cutting off oxygen supply, while CO2 gas knocks down flames by cooling them.

An ideal marine fire extinguisher should have both types of agents, as well as sufficient capacity to put out fires quickly and effectively. The Coast Guard safety standards state that any recreational vessel of more than 16 feet in length needs one Type A-1 and one Type B-1 or 1A portable marine fire extinguisher. Recreational vessels smaller than 16 feet need one 3A10BC portable marine fire extinguisher.


Do I Need More Than One Marine Fire Extinguisher?

Because marine fires are so difficult to put out, it’s crucial to have at least one effective fire extinguisher onboard your vessel. But how many do you need, and which type is best for your needs? Here’s what you need to know about requirements for marine fire extinguishers.

While commercial vessels must carry multiple types of marine fire extinguishers, recreational boats are only required to carry one – either a carbon dioxide (CO2) or dry chemical agent. In some cases, however, having more than one may be necessary for optimal safety.


Which Class of Fire Extinguisher Should Be Onboard a Vessel With a Permanently Installed Fuel Tank?

All vessels up to 30 meters (100 ft) are required to carry an A-class or B-class dry chemical portable fire extinguisher. These must be provided with sufficient hose and nozzles so that it can be used quickly to control an accidental fire in any compartment. All vessels over 30 meters (100 ft) are required to carry a minimum of two portable fire extinguishers, one of which must be at least B-class.

B-class or A-class dry chemical portable fire extinguishers are recommended to deal with both electrical and combustible fires. All vessels over 30 meters (100 ft) are required to carry at least two portable fire extinguishers. If you do not have more than two, make sure they’re B-class. As an added precaution, install one of your B-class extinguishers in your engine room near combustible fuel tanks and power sources.


READ: P.A.S.S Fire Safety (How to Use Fire Extinguisher)

How Many B1 Fire Extinguishers Must Motorboats Between 26 and 40 Feet Have Aboard?

All recreational boats between 26 and 40 feet in length are required to have at least one B1 rated fire extinguisher. Boats between 26 and 40 feet may carry up to three B1 rated fire extinguishers. These boats may have 2A:10BC or 3A:30BC fire extinguishers as well, if desired. All other boats are allowed only one B1 rated fire extinguisher unless they are over 65 feet in length.


Why Are Marine Fire Extinguishers White

Fire extinguishers are color-coded by their contents, which vary based on what types of fires they can put out. White is used for any combustible liquids and oils, such as gasoline or paint thinner.

This color-coding system has been in place since 1885, with certain modifications to make them more visible. It’s easy to remember which color goes with what type of combustible based on Roy G. Biv, an acronym created to help memorize red (R), orange (O), yellow (Y), green (G), blue (B) and indigo/violet (I). White goes with W: white for liquid fuel fires and Y for combustible metal fires.

White marine fire extinguishers are based on sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. They’re water-based, non-corrosive and do not leave behind any residue, meaning they can be used in marine settings without damaging surface materials. Some other types of white marine fire extinguishers include: BC, made of fluorobromomethane; CO2 (carbon dioxide); and Halon, which use chlorofluorocarbons to help fight fires.


What Does the Letter B on a B-1 Fire Extinguisher Indicate

B stands for boats. This type of extinguisher is specifically designed to fight class A and B fires, which are most likely to occur in or around boats.

These include gasoline, oil, paint and other flammable liquids, as well as electrical equipment. Since boats are often at sea or in remote locations where no help may be available quickly, it’s important to have at least one B-1 extinguisher onboard at all times.

B-I Fire Extinguishers must be:

  • Dry Chemical, ABC, or Purple K: 2 lbs or larger
  • Carbon Dioxide (Co2): 5 lbs or larger
  • Halon: 2.5 lbs or larger
  • Halotron: 11 lbs or larger

Most boats in North America and Europe carry at least one of these B-1 fire extinguisher on board.

The U.S. Coast Guard requires boats carrying more than six passengers to have at least one type B-1 extinguisher onboard, preferably located near an exit point from below deck areas where it can be easily accessed in case of emergency.

If you are planning to buy an extinguisher for your boat, make sure you choose one that has been approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This will ensure that it will work properly when needed. The UL mark is usually found somewhere on an extinguisher’s label.

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