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New Marine Fire Extinguisher Law for Boats

New U.S. Coast Guard regulation goes into effect April 20, 2022.

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Fire extinguisher chart
A new US Coast Guard regulation goes into effect April 20, 2022 and may affect what fire extinguishers you need to carry aboard your boat. Courtesy USCG

A new law regarding the fire extinguishers that must be carried aboard recreational boats goes into effect April 20, 2022. The new regulation, which can be found in the Federal Register at CFR 33 Part175 subpart E breaks down into three main takeaways and applies to recreational boat less than 65 feet LOA. Notably, outboard-powered boats without any closed compartments that could hold explosive vapors or gasses (think: simple skiffs, garveys, etc.) are not required to carry fire extinguishing equipment by federal law.

The first takeaway is that portable fire extinguishers aboard all recreational boats must not be older than 12 years. The age of a fire extinguisher may be stamped on its bottom. This is a reasonable service life, we think, for a device that may save a life. If your extinguishers have no date, we say: replace them.

Boat fire extinguisher chart
Boat models pre-2018 must adhere to a different set of fire extinguisher regulations. Boating Magazine

The second thing to know about the new regulation is that it requires all boats from model year 2018 and newer to carry fire extinguishers labeled as 5-B, 10-B or 20-B. Extinguishers labeled with the old B-I or B-II designations only are no longer acceptable. Boats older than 2018 can still carry extinguishers lableed B-1 and /or B-11, provided they are serviceable and they are not date-stamped as more than 12 years old. Again, we say, replace those 13-year old or older extinguishers anyway.

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Third, the number of extinguishers required to be carried aboard any boat type does not change.

Read Next: How To Check Your Boat’s Fire Extinguisher

At Boating, we feel obligated to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world of boating, and boats, and share these developments with you. This is especially true of safety concerns and new regulations that can directly affect your days on the water. When the engine cut-off switch/ engine cut-off switch link (ECOS/ECOSL) law went into effect last year, we reported on it. When Type V inflatable lifejackets became legal over a decade ago, we reported on it. When overboard discharge was banned we reported on it and informed you how to re-equip your boats. There is a history of our operating at the intersection of reader service and the public good.

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Above are handy charts to help you select the right fire extinguishers for your boat. Like all regulations, these indicate the minimums that must be carried. Carrying more than what is required just makes sense.

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