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Fire Extinguishers

Depending on the type and length of the motorboat, the number of fire extinguishers that need to be on board varies. Find out how many extinguishers you need to carry.

The following is a list of the types of fires and their corresponding extinguisher rating letter:
Fire extinguisher manufacturer date stamp

A. Fires of ordinary combustible materials
B. Gasoline, oil, and grease fires.
C. Electrical Fires

Extinguishers approved for motorboats are hand-portable, of either B-1 or B-2 classification. Newer fire extinguisher ratings (since 2020) are 5-B, 10-B, and 20-B. The number in this new rating refers to the size of square feet the extinguisher is able of putting out. Not the exact weight of the dry chemical inside the bottle.

USCG fire extinguisher regulations went into effect on April 20, 2022. These regulations mandate a 12-year expiration date of manufacture for disposable fire extinguishers. Boaters can find the manufacture date stamped at the bottom of the bottle or near the UL label. This may be two or four digits - if there are two digits, (example: 08), that means 2008. Additionally, while the new regulation does not change the type (U.S. Coast Guard rated) or quantity required aboard, it does specify the minimum Underwriter Laboratory (UL) classification of extinguishers to be carried aboard certain vessels. (Also, see BoatUS News Release).
Coast Guard fire extinguisher requirements for boat length and extinguisher type -effective April 20, 2022B-1 portable fire extinguisher

Infographic of the "PASS" operation methodExtinguishers approved for motorboats are hand-portable An approved extinguisher bears the label of a testing laboratory and will include either a U.S. Coast Guard approval number or specify "Marine type USCG." Boaters should be familiar with how to use their extinguisher. Regularly check the charge and be sure the powder is loose and not packed. Every motorboat except outboard open construction motorboats less than 26 feet in length needs to carry on board fully charged and in good condition the following hand portable marine-approved fire extinguishers. 

Some extra points: "Pass acronym to explain how to operate a fire extinguisher: 

1. Keep a shipboard fire downwind. Turn the boat so that the flames and smoke blow away from the boat rather than over it.

2. Do not test a fire extinguisher. This breaks the seals and causes leakage. ALL extinguishers should be serviced at least every two years. See label for servicing information. 

3. Store extinguishers where a fire is NOT likely to break out. Mounting over the galley stove or inside the engine compartment is not considered readily accessible.

4. An extinguisher stored horizontally is less susceptible to packing or caking caused by vibration and settling.

5. Point the extinguisher nozzle at the source of the fire (beneath the flames) and sweep back and forth. Keep in mind a type 5-B or B-1 extinguisher empties in less than 10 seconds!

6. Save some of the charge for a re-flash or, better yet, carry a spare extinguisher.