What Is A Requirement For Fire Extinguishers On A Boat

Fire accidents are one of the regular accidents to happen on a boat; The most likely cause is that boats are powered by gasoline, which is highly flammable when in contact with fire. A major reason why it does not occur frequently is because of fire extinguishers on boats to control the situation immediately.

As a result, fire extinguishers are an essential commodity to have on the boat; So important that there are separate regulations created for them to regulate the use and maintenance of these materials on the boat. So, What Is A Requirement For Fire Extinguishers On A Boat?

A good point to note is that many vendors still sell fire extinguishers based on the old and outdated rules and requirements guiding the use of fire extinguishers on the boat. The latest regulation is the UL method of 2016 which replaced the Coast Guard regulations.

For maintenance, siting, and inspection of the fire extinguishers, the NFPA 10 act has been approved for the purposes mentioned. The law changes are not much and are easy to follow through too.

What Is A Requirement For Fire Extinguishers On A Boat

What Is A Requirement For Fire Extinguishers On A Boat

Some boats do not require a fire extinguisher on board and will pass inspection checks. Boats with the following features are bound by law to have at least one fire extinguisher, and be placed at a good vantage position:

  • Engine rooms that are closed
  • Residential quarters, including kitchens
  • Heavy-duty fuel installations
  • Presence of compartments that store extra engines.
  • Bottoms that do not have a sealable cover, and are exposed to the heat from the engine room and fuel installations.

 Number of Fire Extinguishers Required on a Boat

According to guidelines, the number of extinguishers allowed for a boat depends on the type which is owned. The category is mainly divided into motorboats or motor vessels. For the avoidance of doubt, the difference between the two is largely its length.

For a motor vessel, its length is measured at over 65-feet in length, while for the motorboat, its length is measured below 65 feet per length.

For the sub-category, the number of extinguishers is based on the presence of a system for fire extinguishers and the size of the boats themselves.

Number of Extinguishers Needed for Motor vessels

Motor vessels are big boats that require lots of gasoline, because of the presence of lots of engines. Lots of gasoline means the fire risk will be higher, which needs lots of extinguishers. For a standard motor vessel, the amount of fire extinguishers needed is dependent on the engine’s size and net weight.

Standard rules stipulate that at least one extinguisher which is 20-B is required to be on the boat no matter its size. Add to the rules, the bigger the size of the boat, the higher the number.

  • For vessels with a weight of 1 -1000 BHP, an additional extinguisher should be added
  • For vessels with a weight of 1000 BHP and above, two extra extinguishers are required.

In addition to the weight, boats with big and heavy engines require more fire extinguishers because of the higher risk of a fire outbreak. Boats that weigh huge should be provided with an

Boats that weigh huge should be provided with extra protection. It is necessary to have an installed system for fire extinguishing in place that can supply different areas of the boat at a moment’s notice, or at least a higher than a normal weight fire extinguisher.

Number of Extinguishers Needed for Motor-Boats

The number of fire extinguishers that should be available on a motorboat differs depending on the length of the boat. For small boats which are normally used for recreational purposes, regulations do not require them to have an extinguisher on board.

  • A boat with a length of below 26 feet needs one fire extinguisher
  • 26 – 40 feet require two extinguishers
  • Any boat with a length above 40 feet requires three fire extinguishers

Exceptions can be made for boats with an already installed fire extinguishing system in place. Where such a system is available, the number of extinguishers can be reduced by one. So, for boats shorter than 26 feet, it does not need an extinguisher. Other exceptions include boats that are for private use only and are propelled by external engines.

Types of Extinguishers Needed on Boats

Before the adoption of the UL method, type B-I and B-II fire extinguishers were in use. However, as of 2016, they have been replaced by updated extinguishers, although there are exceptions for them.

There are two types of fire extinguishers approved by the National Coast Guard for Boats; the 5-B and 20-B fire extinguishers which are built for putting out fires listed under the Type B category.

Asides from this rule, other factors considered include the number and size of extinguishers. According to the 2016 UL rule, all extinguishers which normally possess certification including 1A: 5B: C can be used on boats.

The rule also stipulates that extinguishers installed before 2016 and kept under safe conditions can still be used. So, most B-I fire extinguishers that were used likely can be 5-B or higher in the UL ranking system. This is dependent on recommendations by the chief safety officer.

Read Also: What should you do if a fire breaks out in the back of your boat.

Safe Places where Extinguishers can be Stored

The regulations guiding the use of fire extinguishers on the boat do not explicitly talk about the required location for the storage of the fire extinguisher. There are clauses, however, surrounding the storage locations that can be used to guide the storage of the fire extinguishers on the boat.

A major concern about the storage of the fire extinguishers on a boat is how easy it is to access. A good storage point for a fire extinguisher should be placed at a point where it is readily available, and normally situated at points of passage.

As such, the extinguishers should be stored in residential areas on the boat, and in cases where they might not be readily sighted from a position, directions should be placed to help locate them in moments of emergency.

The directions will come in handy for emergencies where the fire extinguisher will be needed immediately but has to be removed safely from either its resting place or holster.

Additionally, there are rules stipulating the distance between two neighboring fire extinguishers on a boat. This is dependent on the size of the extinguisher as well as the level of fire hazard.

Normally, this shouldn’t be a thing of concern especially where the boat is small in size, and not used for commercial purposes. For large boats, the distance between two fire extinguishers should be at least 30-50 feet of each other.

Other rules for the placement of fire extinguishers on the boat are the availability of a dedicated cabinet, or area that is known to house only fire extinguishers.

This also includes straps to hold the canisters in place, especially for boats used on the sea, to balance the extinguisher against the raging waves.

There are lots of straps that are produced for fire extinguishers, but only a handful are approved for use on the sea for heavy ships. Check the UL website for guidance on specifications to purchase approved straps for use.

It is important to estimate the relevance of a dedicated system for the fire extinguisher in a boat, especially for a big and heavy boat.

Recommended: What To Do If Fire Breaks Out in the Front Of Your Boat.

Leave a Comment