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Fire Extinguishers

Next in line after PFDs, fire extinguishers are a very important safety item. Although not all motorboats are required to carry a fire extinguisher, it is highly recommended that you do. There are numerous types and sizes of extinguishers but each one has to be U. S. Coast Guard approved.

Fire Extinguishers are classified by letters and numbers according to the class and size fire they can put out. The letter on the extinguisher (A, B, C, or D) indicates the class of fire. The number is a measure of the capacity of the extinguisher - the larger the number, the greater the capacity of extinguishing material to put out a fire.

"A" is for combustible solids like wood

Extinguishers class A

"B" is for flammable liquids such as gasoline

Extinguishers class B

"C" is for electrical fires

Extinguishers class C

"D" is for combustible metals like magnesium

Extinguishers class D

Some boat fires involve burning wood and paper (Class A), but these fires can be put out with water. Do not use water on gasoline, oil, or electrical fires. Water causes gasoline and oil fires to spread and electrical current is conducted through the water.

Make sure to inspect your fire extinguishers monthly to make sure they are properly stored, charged and undamaged.

  • Portable extinguishers should be mounted where they are readily accessible. 
  • Check the gauge to make sure the extinguisher is still charged. 
  • Check the seals to make sure they have not been tampered with. 
  • Replace cracked or broken hoses and keep nozzles free from obstruction. 
  • Weigh extinguishers to assure that they meet the minimum weight stated on the label.

Once you use a fire extinguisher, you should either have it recharged, if it is rechargeable, or replaced if it is a disposable type. In any event, always make sure that your extinguisher label indicates that it is a U.S. Coast Guard approved marine type device.

Fire extinguisher classification

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