Safety should always come first in every situation. Not having a fire extinguisher on your boat is extremely irresponsible. I wouldn’t step foot on a boat knowing that it doesn’t have the enough equipment to keep me safe.
You never know when tragedy could strike. A peaceful boating trip with the family can quickly turn into a very dangerous, stressful fight for your life situation. Because of this, you want to always be prepared for the worst.
There needs to be a fire extinguisher present on every boat. You should have a whole array of different emergency equipment on your boat. I’ve created a guide on the Ultimate Boat Emergency Kit. You should check it out if you’re still not sure what you need to be completely safe.
But where should fire extinguishers be stored on a boat?
You can’t just leave your fire extinguisher anywhere on your boat. It’s important to store it strategically to ensure that it’s readily available when you need it and can be used effectively.
Some locations will be more effective than others. I’ve been on a few boats where the fire extinguisher placement was questionable, whenever I notice this, I immediately let the boat captain know where they should have it to ensure my safety and everyone else’s on-board.
Well, there are a few locations that would work best on every boat, let’s talk about them.
Where Is the Best Place to Mount A Fire Extinguisher on A Boat?
Fire extinguishers should be placed in a location that it’s easily accessible in the event of an emergency. Ideally, the fire extinguisher should be within arm’s reach. An open area where no obstructions can prevent you from getting to it and It should be in-view so that it can be easily spotted. Areas on your boat that people are most likely to be are best.
Make sure you mount your fire extinguisher at an angle. This is because you don’t want all the chemicals inside to settle at the bottom. Mounting at an angle helps prevents this and therefore makes the extinguisher more effective when used.
Questions to Ask Yourself
There are a few questions that you should ask yourself which can help you decide where you should place your fire extinguisher.
Where is a fire most likely to occur? More than likely a fire would start where flammable liquids are available or your boat engine. You’d want a fire extinguisher close enough to be able to put out the fire as soon as possible but not too close that you won’t be able to reach it because of the fire.
If you have a BBQ grill on your boat or another form of cooking appliance, these could be potential fire hazards so it would be a good idea to place a fire extinguisher nearby. In your home you would keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen so why not do the same on your boat.
Where do passengers spend most their time? You always want your fire extinguisher to be nearby yourself and your passengers. As mentioned previously, it’s a good idea for your extinguisher to be within arm’s reach.
How clean and maintained is your boat? You should always ensure that your boat is clean of debris and other obstructions which could make getting to your fire extinguisher more difficult. You may not think it’s a big deal but in a panic it’s easy to trip on even the smallest obstructions.
You are required by law to have a fire extinguisher on-board if your boat has an engine and meets any of the following criteria:
- The boat has closed compartments where a fuel tank can be stored
- The boat has a double bottom which is not filled to the hull
- The boat has closed living spaces
- The boat has repentantly installed fuel tanks
- The boat has an inboard engine
If your boat doesn’t meet the criteria, then you’re not required by law to have a fire extinguisher onboard however it’s extremely recommended.
Why put your life at risk when a fire extinguisher will cost you less than 50 bucks and take less than 10 minutes to install? You also must remember that it’s not only your life that your putting at risk, it’s also your passenger’s life’s that your risking by not having a fire extinguisher on your boat. As the captain, you’re responsible for everyone onboard.
Which Fire Extinguisher Is Right for Your Boat? (Types of Fire Extinguishers)
There are a few different types of fire extinguishers. It always surprises me how many people didn’t know this and thought that one type suits all situations. There are different fire extinguishers for different situations.
The law defines what type of fire extinguisher(s) your boat needs.
By law your fire extinguishers must be USCG approved.
There are two main types of fire extinguishers, B1 and B2.
The type of fire extinguisher you are required to have depends on the length of your boat.
The rules are as follows:
- Boat under 26 Feet – 1 B1 fire extinguisher required
- Boat between 26 and 40 Feet – 2 B1 OR 1 B2 fire extinguisher(s) required
- Boat between 40 and 65 Feet – 3 B1 OR 2 B2 fire extinguisher(s) required
- Boat over 65 Feet – Check federal regulations
Fire Extinguisher Classification
You may have heard of fire classifications. Fires are classified depending on their fuel source. There are three main fuel sources, combustible solids, flammable liquids and electrical fires. You’ll need the correct type of extinguisher relevant to the class of the fire. The three types of fire extinguishers are labeled A, B and C.
Flammable liquids are the most common source of fire when it comes to fires that occur on a boat. Therefore, we use type B fire extinguishers for marine-use, and therefore the fire extinguisher requirements on a boat are B type fire extinguishers.
You may be curious to know what the number after the letter is. For example, B1 and B2. The number represents the fire extinguishers capacity. Therefore, the larger your boat is, the higher the number goes and the amount of fire extinguishers you need.
Because the different classes work more effectively on different types of fires, it would be a good idea to have multiple different classes of fire extinguisher available on your boat. This would ensure that you always have the most effective fire extinguisher accessible.
ABC Fire Extinguisher
In fact, you can purchase fire extinguishers that work on many different types of fires. These are very versatile and don’t require you too have a bunch of different fire extinguishers laying about.
They utilize monoammonium, the dry chemical that puts out fires extremely quickly. This is a pale-yellow powder suitable for all three fire classes.
You can purchase these from Amazon. You’d be surprised how cheap they are.
- ABC Dry Chemical, Class A:B:C Extinguisher
- For use on Class A (ordinary combustibles), Class B (Flammable liquid)...
- 14 sec. discharge time
- All metal valve construction, Aluminum Valve
How to Use Your Boats Fire Extinguisher?
Storing your fire extinguisher in the best place possible is great and all, but what good is it if you don’t know how to use it. You should ensure that you and all your passengers know how to correctly function the fire extinguisher.
There is a basic rule of thumb to using a fire extinguisher and that is the abbreviation, P.A.S.S.
- Pull the security pin
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
- Squeeze the lever, expelling the extinguishing substance
- Sweep the nozzle from side to size, providing full coverage on the fire
It’s that simple. However, in an emergency people are likely to panic and if they don’t know how to use the fire extinguisher properly, they could end up doing worse than good.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
You should make sure that you carry out a monthly inspection of your boats fire extinguisher. Make this part of your boat’s monthly maintenance (which you should be doing).
You cannot simply purchase a fire extinguisher, throw it on your boat and forget about it.
If your fire extinguisher is not maintained sufficiently, you never know when it may be working or not. This is extremely dangerous. What’s the point of having a fire extinguisher on board if it may not work properly when you need it?
Regardless of how well you store your fire extinguisher on your boat, if it doesn’t work – it won’t help you.
In fact, you are required by The National Fire Code to inspect your fire extinguisher every 30 days. And it must also be tested at least once a year. Though, I’d always recommend testing it every few months. The code also requires that you replace it at least every 10 years.
So how should you maintain your boats fire extinguisher?
- Firstly, check that the seals have not been damaged.
- Secondly, ensure that the hose has not been damaged. If it shows any signs of damage, then replace it.
- Thirdly, inspect the pressure gauge to ensure that it’s fully charged.
- Fourthly, if you’ve opted for a dry chemical extinguisher then you should weigh it and measure it against the minimum weight that should be present on the extinguishers label.
- Lastly, inspect the fire extinguisher itself all around for any damage, such as dents or cracks.
If you are unsure how to fix any damage, then the best thing to do is simply replace the fire extinguisher. It’s not worth taking the risk of malfunction.
There you have it, now you know the best place to store a fire extinguisher on a boat, how to use your fire extinguishers and how to maintain it. That’s everything you need to know when it comes to keeping a fire extinguisher onboard.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say. Don’t forget to share this guide on social media as it could save a life.
Other guides to keep you safe on your boat: