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Fire extinguisher requirements in Canada

Different types of fires can occur on a motori boat, and each type of fire requires a different type of extinguisher. A motor boat should have a type BC fire extinguisher on board capable of fighting combustible liquid and electrical fires.  The letters on a fire extinguisher determine what types of fires it is designed to fight. Fires are classified as follows:

Types of fire extinguishers:

Class A

Extinguishers Class A

 Fights a solid combustible (wood, textiles, paper, etc.).

Class B

Extinguishers Class B

Fights combustible liquids (flammable liquid, paint, grease, and oil)

Class C

Extinguishers 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 10BC device will put out a larger fire than a 5BC device. 

Fighting a fire

How many fire extinguishers do I need on my pleasure craft?

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

Where do I store my fire extinguisher on the boat?

Fire extinguishers should always be kept in a convenient and easily accessible place on your boat. 


The fire extinguisher you choose must be certified and labelled by the Coast Guard (for marine use), Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.(UL). You may no longer refill your fire extinguishers yourself, but have them refilled by a competent manufacturer's representative.

Fire extinguisher

Fuels, such as gasoline and propane, can be very dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. The fumes from these fuels are heavier than air and tend to collect in the cabin, bilge and other low lying areas of the boat. It is of utmost importance that you keep these areas clean and free of trash because those are the areas of the boat where oxygen tends to accumulate. The missing ingredient to then start a fire is heat. Just turning the ignition switch could spark a fire!

Basic rules

Some basic safety rules that you should follow on your boat:

  • check your fire extinguishers often for correct operating pressure and make sure that you and your passengers know how to use them. 
  • Have a qualified service representative check the extinguishers and recharge them as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Every month, to prevent the chemicals in the fire extinguishers from clumping, turn them upside down and shake them vigorously. 


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