Federal requirements for recreational and commercial boats are designed to provide safety to boaters and to withstand the environmental conditions unique to maritime settings. The U.S. Coast Guard approved marine-type (also called offshore) fire extinguishers are required for boats where a fire hazard from engine troubles or fuel system could arise.
U.S. Coast Guard approved extinguishers are hand-portable and have a Class B rating. This means the extinguishing agent used is effective against flammable liquid fires, such as gasoline and oils as well as cooking liquids, paints, kerosene. It should be pointed out here that a tri-class dry chemical fire extinguisher would also work as it contains an extinguishing agent that is effective in Class B fires as well as Class A and C fires. (See our other article – Fire Class UL Rating System)
The numerical rating that comes after the B, such as B:1 or B:2, refers to the amount or capacity of extinguishing agent the fire extinguisher cylinder contains. The higher the number the greater the amount of agent in the extinguisher. Larger size capacity cylinders may be too big for most recreational boats.
What conditions determine if a boat requires a fire extinguisher?
Guidelines indicate that U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers are required for boats when any of the following conditions exist:
- The boat has closed compartments or compartments that are under seats where portable fuel tanks may be stored.
- Where a boat has a double bottom not sealed to the hull or that are not completely filled with flotation materials.
- The boat contains “closed living spaces”.
- The boat has stowage compartments that are closed and in which combustible or flammable materials are stored.
- There are permanently installed and secured fuel tanks and cannot be moved.
What determines how many fire extinguishers are required for different size boats?
U.S. Coast Guard guidelines are based on vessel length, a logical approach as it factors in the size of the potential fire and the possibility of fires being at different locations or spread apart. It also factors in whether the boat has an approved fire extinguisher system installed for protection of the engine compartment. The chart below breaks down those “minimum” requirements.
Vessel Length in Feet Has Extinguisher System Does Not Have Extinguisher System
Less than 26 feet 1 B:1 extinguisher 0
26 to 40 feet 2 B:1 or 1 B:2 extinguisher 1 B:1 extinguisher
40 to 65 feet 3 B:1 or 1 B:2 & 1 B:1 extinguisher 2 B:1 or 1 B:2 extinguisher
Note: All U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers must include a mounting bracket and should be mounted in a readily accessible location. Areas for consideration could include adjacent the steering station, in the galley, or engine room, but strategically positioned away from a location where a potential fire could originate.
U.S. Coast Guard and the National Fire Protection Association
The U.S. Coast Guard has adopted the National Fire Protection Association standards for maintenance and inspection of fire extinguishers. (To learn more about these standards click HERE)
Buckeye Fire Protection U. S. Coast Guard Approved Offshore Maritime Fire Extinguishers
Buckeye’s Offshore Fire Extinguishers are built rugged and durable to withstand the harshest of environments. They are designed and engineered with special features that help protect them from the hazardous exposures of sun, water, salt, and wind that define maritime conditions. These features include:
- Steel cylinders and frames
- Stainless steel operating levers
- Brass plated valves
- Agent cylinders and wheeled model frames come with a galvanizing compound undercoat, a baked-on enamel top coat, and a protective clear coat finish to prevent corrosion and fading from exposure to the maritime conditions
- Name plates have UV resistant lamination to protect against sun damage
- Brass plated guard around the pressure gauge
- Specific to hand portable fire extinguishers: a vinyl ring on the cylinder bottom to protect the base
All of Buckeye’s Hand Portable Offshore Fire extinguishers are U.S. Coast Guard approved for marine vessels when used in conjunction with the bracket specified on the label.
List of Buckeye’s Wheeled Fire extinguishers that are U.S. Coast Guard approved for marine vessels.