Fire extinguishers - Boat regulations & requirements

Boat license

What type of marine fire extinguisher is required on a motorized boat?

Different types of fires can occur on a pleasure craft with an engine. Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. You should buy a fire extinguisher with an ABC rating. The letters on a fire extinguisher determine what types of fires it is designed to fight. Fires are classified as follows:

Three classes of fire extinguishers exist:

  • Class A: fights a solid combustible (wood, textiles, papers, etc.);
  • Class B: fights combustible liquids (flammable liquid, paint, grease, and oil);
  • Class C: fights an electrical fire (motor, fuse box and cables).

The number before the letters on the extinguisher tells you how big a fire it will put out compared to other extinguishers. For example, a 10B/C device will put out a larger fire than a 5B/C device. 

Fire extinguisher

What determines the number of marine fire extinguishers required on a pleasure craft?

The type of devices on board and the length of the boat will determine the number and type of extinguishers required on your pleasure craft.

Where must a fire extinguisher be located on a boat?

It is important to know that for boats equipped with an inboard engine, a BC type fire extinguisher is required on board and must be stored in a convenient and easily accessible place. 

Any fire extinguisher you choose must be certified and labelled by the U.S. Coast Guard (for marine use), Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.(UL). You are no longer allowed to refill halon fire extinguishers.

Where is the best place to store a fire extinguisher on a boat?

Fuels, such as gasoline and propane, can be very dangerous if precautions are not taken. The fumes of these fuels are heavier than air and tend to collect in the cabin, bilge and other lower areas of the boat. It is essential that you keep these areas clean and free of trash because they naturally are surrounded by oxygen all that is necessary to start a fire is heat. This could come from something as simple as a spark from an ignition component. 

Maintenance of the fire extinguishers on your pleasure craft?

Some basic safety rules on your boat: check your fire extinguishers often for correct operating pressure and make sure that you and your guests know how to use them. Have a qualified person service the extinguishers and recharge them as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Every Month, to prevent the chemical agent in the fire extinguisher from clumping, give them a few hard shakes in the upside down position.