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August 2013

Fire extinguishers

Be ready for fire hazards on board

Fire extinguishers

U.S. Coast Guard-approved marine fire extinguishers are required on boats where the engines or fuel system present a fire hazard.

Fire extinguishers are classified by letter (A, B and C) and number (I and II). The letter denotes the type or types of fire it can extinguish. The most common and least expensive portable extinguishers for boats are class BC dry chemical extinguishers suitable for both flammable liquid and electrical fires.

Easy mnemonic for fire extinguisher types:

Type A    Ash, for wood, paper, rubber, plastic or textiles

Type B    Boil, for flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil and grease

Type C    Current, for electrical equipment fire

The number denotes how much extinguishing chemical the device holds. According to the U.S. Coast Guard,

Size I extinguishers contain a minimum of 2 pounds of dry chemical

Size II extinguishers contain at least 10 pounds of dry chemical

Federal Requirements

  • Fire extinguishers are required on boats with
    Inboard engines
  • Outboards with closed compartments for fuel tank storage
  • Permanently installed fuel tanks
    Closed compartments or living spaces

How many extinguishers do I have to carry?

Boat length No fixed system Approved fixed system
< 26 feet One B-I 0
26 to < 40 feet Two B-I or one B-II One B-I
40 to 65 feet Three B-I or One B-I and One B-II Two B-I or One B-II

You may substitute one B-II extinguisher for two B-Is. Boats with fixed extinguishing systems in the engine room may carry one less B-I. Mount extinguishers in USCG-approved brackets with quick-release catches.

 

  

 

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