Coast Guard changes fire extinguisher requirements for boats

As you look forward to boating season, now is the time to take a look at the fire extinguishers you have on board. Beginning April 20, new US Coast Guard regulations take effect that change fire extinguisher expiration dates and the minimum rating of fire extinguishers carried on newer boats.

New US Coast Guard regulations impose a 12-year expiration on all disposable (non-refillable) fire extinguishers. The date of manufacture may consist of two or four digits (for example, 08 or 2008) engraved on the bottom of the bottle or near the UL label.

And the other big change: Boats that are model year 2018 or newer must carry the new “5-B”, “10-B”, and “20-B” rated fire extinguishers rather than those with the older ” BI” and “B”. -II”, which are being phased out. The number on the new labels refers to the size (in square feet) of a potential fire that the device is capable of extinguishing. For boats under 26 feet and model year 2018 or newer, fire extinguishers must be unexpired “5-B” “10-B” or “20-B”. For 2018 and newer 26-65 foot pleasure craft, requirements vary. Check out this chart and flowchart from BoatUS Foundation to see what you need.

If your boat is a 2017 or older model, you may carry older “BI” or “B-II” disposable fire extinguishers until their 12-year expiration date, then they must be replaced with class-leading extinguishers. more recent. The 12-year expiration date brings Coast Guard regulations into line with National Fire Protection Association recommendations.

BoatUS strongly urges boaters to exceed minimum onboard fire extinguisher requirements. Two can be better than one when it’s time to make an emergency call or prepare to abandon ship. They also point out that some dual-rated extinguishers protect against liquid and electrical fires, while triple-rated extinguishers also protect against combustible fires.

“We expect the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons ship safety audit program to soon include this new regulation as part of their free, no-penalty ship reviews. Since this change affects a critical piece of safety equipment on board your boat, we also expect the US Coast Guard to focus on education initially. You may want to start checking fire extinguishers now while your boat may be ashore this winter.

The regulations on rechargeable and fixed fire extinguishers have not changed; they require regular maintenance by a technician.

“We expect the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons ship safety audit program to soon include this new regulation as part of their free, no-penalty ship reviews,” says the director. BoatUS Foundation Deputy Boating Safety Officer Ted Sensenbrenner. “Because this change affects a critical piece of safety equipment aboard your boat, we also expect the U.S. Coast Guard to focus on education initially. You may want to start checking fire extinguishers now while your boat may be ashore this winter.

If your fire extinguishers aren’t mounted where they’re easily accessible, buy a bracket and relocate them. “Burying them deep in a compartment ensures they’ll be hard to reach when you need them most,” Sensenbrenner points out. Make sure you know the PASS method (point, aim, squeeze and sweep) before an emergency occurs.

-Meg Walburn Viviano

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