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It's the Law

Fire Extinguishers

All vessels with a motor of any type are required to have a Type B fire extinguisher on board. The only exception is a vessel that is of open construction, is less than 26 feet in length, has an outboard engine, is not carrying passengers for hire, and is not on federally controlled waters (see Federally Controlled Waters).

Approved types of fire extinguishers are identified by the following marking on the label—“Marine Type USCG Approved”—followed by the type and size symbols (B-I or B-II) and the approval number. The “II” in the symbol B-II indicates that this type of fire extinguisher has twice the amount of extinguishing agent as those labeled B-I.

Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Classification Foam Carbon Dioxide Dry Chemical
type & size minimum gallons minimum pounds minimum pounds
B-I 4 2
B-II 15 10
Length of Vessel Without Fixed System With Fixed System* 
Less than 16 ft. none** none
16 ft. to less than 26 ft. one B-I none
26 ft. to less than 40 ft.  two B-I or one B-II one B-I
40 ft. to less than 65 ft.  three B-I or one B-II and one B-I two B-I or one B-II

* See first paragraph on this page for exceptions.
** Refers to a permanently installed fire extinguisher system.
*** One B-I extinguisher is required if boating on federally controlled waters.

Extinguishers should be placed in an accessible area—not near the engine or in a compartment, but where they can be reached immediately. Be sure you know how to operate them, and inspect extinguishers regularly to ensure they are in working condition and fully charged.

Fire Extinguisher Indicator

To check this style of extinguisher, depress the green button. If it is fully charged, the green button should pop back out immediately.

Fire Extinguisher Indicator

On this style of fire extinguisher, the needle indicator should be in the "full" range.