New law on marine fire extinguishers for boats

A new U.S. Coast Guard regulation takes effect April 20, 2022, and may affect the fire extinguishers you must carry on your boat.
Courtesy of USCG

A new law regarding fire extinguishers that must be carried on board pleasure craft comes into effect on April 20, 2022. The new regulation, which can be found in the Federal Register at CFR 33 Part175 subpart E is broken down into three main points and is applies to pleasure craft. boat less than 65 feet LOA. Notably, outboard motor boats without enclosed compartments that may contain explosive vapors or gases (think simple skiffs, garveys, etc.) are not required to carry fire extinguishing equipment under the federal law.

The first point to remember is that portable fire extinguishers on board all pleasure craft should be no more than 12 years old. The age of a fire extinguisher may be stamped on its bottom. That’s a reasonable lifespan, we think, for a device that can save a life. If your fire extinguishers don’t have a date, we say: replace them.

Table of fire extinguishers for boats
Boat models prior to 2018 must meet a different set of fire extinguisher regulations.
Nautical Magazine

The second thing to know about the new regulations is that they require all 2018 model year and newer boats to carry fire extinguishers labeled 5-B, 10-B, or 20-B. Extinguishers labeled only with the former BI or B-II designations are no longer acceptable. Pre-2018 boats may still carry fire extinguishers labeled B-1 and/or B-11, provided they are serviceable and not dated as more than 12 years old. Again, we say, replace those 13-year-old or older fire extinguishers anyway.

Third, the number of fire extinguishers that must be carried on board any type of boat does not change.

Read more : How to check your boat’s fire extinguisher

To boating, we feel compelled to stay up to date with what is happening in the world of boating and boats, and to share these developments with you. This is especially true for safety issues and new regulations that can directly affect your days on the water. When the ECOS/ECOSL law came into force last year, we reported on it. When Type V inflatable life jackets became legal over a decade ago, we reported. When dumping was banned, we reported on it and told you how to re-equip your boats. There is a history of our operation at the intersection of service to readers and the public good.

Above are handy charts to help you select the right extinguishers for your boat. Like all regulations, these indicate the minima that must be carried. Carrying more than necessary makes sense.

Earnest A. Martinez