Fire Extinguisher Equipment

Though it may seem strange, fires are a boating danger even on the water. Boat operators should anticipate a fire emergency by fitting the boat with the appropriate fire safety equipment and ensuring that they know how and when to use it appropriately.

U S Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguishers are required to be carried as part of the safety equipment on personal watercraft and boats where a fire hazard could occur from the engines or the fuel system. The following boat conditions make it a requirement to carry a U.S. Coast Guard- approved fire extinguisher aboard:

  • There are double bottoms on the vessel that are not sealed to the hull or that are not completely filled with flotation material.
  • There are closed living spaces
  • There are closed compartments and compartments under seats where fuel tanks may be stored.
  • There are closed stowage spaces where combustible or flammable materials are kept.
  • There are permanently mounted or heavy unmovable fuel tanks.

There are three types of fire extinguishers, and each is designed to put out a different kind of fire:

Three different types of fire extinguishers

·         Class A- Materials that burn, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and plastic

·         Class B- Liquids that burn, such as gas, oil and grease

·         Class C- Electrical equipment

Fire extinguisher

The U.S. Coast Guard requires AT A MINIMUM, that a smaller boat have at least one Class B-I marine fire extinguisher be carried on board. However, if the vessel is larger, more extinguishers are required. If the boat is between 26 and 40 feet long, you are required to have at least 2 (two) Class B-I fire extinguishers on board. See below chart for extinguisher requirements based on size. Any fire extinguisher that an operator chooses for his/her vessel must be certified and labeled by the U.S. Coast Guard for marine use.

Vessel Length

No Fixed System

With approved Fixed Systems

Less than 26'

1 Class B-I


26' to less than 40'

2 Class B-I


1 Class B-II

1 Class B-I

40' to 65'

3 Class B-I


1 Class B-II and 1 Class B-I

2 Class B-I


1 Class B-II

When storing your marine fire extinguishers it is suggested to use a mounting bracket and keep the fure extinguisher in an upright position where it is easily accessible. This tends to mean keeping extinguishers in rooms where fires most commonly start. i.e. the cabin or bilge. Depending on the type of boat, you will want to place the extinguisher in a high-traffic area and where there is a higher possibility of a fire starting.  

Before leaving shore, operators should check all on-board extinguishers for correct operating pressure and make certain that all passengers know how to use them safely and effectively. Extinguishers should be serviced, recharged and maintained by a qualified individual per the manufacturer’s instructions.