Fire extinguisher basics
Debunking 4 boat fire extinguisher myths
Here are four fire extinguisher myths debunked:
Myth no. 1: Tapping or striking the extinguisher keeps the contents “fresh.”
Reality: Leave the mallet at home. Today’s modern fire extinguishers don’t use chemicals that cake, get hard or need to be broken up. Whacking it with a mallet or hammer could compromise the extinguisher’s ability to put out a fire.
Myth no. 2: All extinguishers must be mounted with a bracket.
Reality: Mounting a fire extinguisher on a bracket keeps the unit in a handy place and may protect it from being banged around, but it is not a legal requirement. The extinguisher does need to be readily accessible, however, so leaving it at the bottom of a locker or compartment is a big no-no.
Myth no. 3: Fire extinguishers get old and go bad every year.
Reality: To meet U.S. Coast Guard carriage requirements, the extinguisher must simply be Coast Guard-approved and in good, serviceable condition. The charge indicator needs to be in the green zone, the nozzle free of obstructions and the cylinder not rusted. Fire extinguishers might have manufacturer-set expiration dates, however, so check the date on fire extinguisher.
Myth no. 4: The law says you only need to carry one extinguisher.
For more on fire extinguishers, go to BoatUS.org/fire-extinguishers.
Reality: U.S. Coast Guard minimum equipment requirements dictate that larger vessels are required to carry more than one fire extinguisher. While a full list of minimum safety gear requirements for all boat sizes can be found at BoatUS.org/equipment, don’t let that stop you from adding additional extinguishers. Having back-ups may help save your boat and won’t break your budget.