If you’re a boat owner, safety should be your top priority. A fire extinguisher is one of the most important safety measures you can take.
Boat fires can spread quickly.
But, having an extinguisher onboard can be the difference between a minor mishap and a devastating disaster.
Importantly, you want to make sure it’s accessible all the time, especially in case of a fire.
In this post, we’ll tell you what are the best places to store a fire extinguisher on a boat.
Let’s dive in.
Which type of fire extinguisher is right for your boat
Now, there are different types of fire extinguishers depending on the source or type of fire.
Boat fires can generally be classified into three types:
Class A: The cause of this class of fire are common wood, paper, and cloth.
Class B: This class of fire originates from liquid combustibles like diesel fuel, gasoline, and oil.
Class C: These fires involve electrical equipment like batteries, wiring, and daily-use appliances.
Importantly, for every class, there’s a different type of extinguisher. For instance, class A extinguishers are designed to put out class A fires, and so on.
However, you don’t have to choose one; there’s a fourth kind of extinguisher that can tackle all types of fires: The ABC extinguisher!
So, no matter the origin of the fire, an ABC extinguisher can help prevent its spread.
Types of Fire-Extinguishing Agents
Let’s talk about the different types of agents commonly used in fire extinguishers.
Dry chemical agents come in the form of powder. They prevent the spread of fire by interrupting the chemical reaction that sustains a flame.
Dry chemical agents are suitable for all A, B, and C classes, which is why they’re most commonly used on boats.
Foam fire extinguishers are commonly used on docks and marinas where flammable liquids like diesel and alcohol are present.
They work by providing a blanket to the burning hazard. This smothers and cools down the fire by cutting the supply of oxygen.
Foam extinguishers are typically used for class A and B fires.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are typically suitable for class B and C fires. And as the name suggests, they use CO2 (carbon dioxide) to put off fires.
They work by replacing oxygen, which is an agent that fuels the fire.
Plus, since they don’t leave a residue after that, CO2 extinguishers are suitable for sensitive electrical equipment.
However, CO2 extinguishers aren’t ideal for short, confined spaces as they replace the oxygen in the air.
Plus, they’re only effective on smaller fires.
Specific Storage Requirements
Storage requirements may vary depending on the type of extinguisher.
For instance, dry chemical extinguishers should be protected from extreme temperatures.
Foam extinguishers are best stored in a vertical position and above-freezing temperatures.
Lastly, carbon dioxide extinguishers should be easily accessible and in an upright position.
Best Locations for Storing a Fire Extinguisher
So, where to place your fire extinguisher for maximum effectiveness? Let’s find out.
The most appropriate place to store a fire extinguisher in a boat is its cockpit. This is because a cockpit is easily accessible during emergency situations like a spreading fire.
But, since the cockpit is exposed to the outside weather, you need to store the extinguisher in a weather-resistant container.
Moreover, be sure to put it into a bracket to prevent it from moving around during your rides.
Also, consider how easy it’d be for you to access the extinguisher and store it accordingly.
Galley is another location where you can store a fire extinguisher for maximum effectiveness.
This is because the galley is often where boaters keep all their cooking equipment.
Placing a fire extinguisher in the galley means you can quickly and easily prevent cooking-related fires from spreading.
However, a galley typically has limited spacing, so you may have to consider storing your extinguisher elsewhere.
Plus, your extinguisher may be obstructed by other pieces of equipment in the galley.
The engine compartment of a boat is most vulnerable because of the exposure to heat. This is why it’s the most common place for a fire accident to happen.
Having a fire extinguisher here provides quick access in case of an emergency.
However, the engine compartment is typically exposed to a harsh environment. The high temperatures, vibration, and exposure to moisture could end up damaging it.
Before placing your fire extinguisher in the engine compartment, make sure it’s well-ventilated.
Otherwise, the device won’t effectively work, or worse, cause damage to the user.
What You Need to Know About Fire Extinguisher Storage Regulations
The legal requirements for fire extinguisher storage on boats depend on the region or country you’re in.
So, it’s important for boat owners to familiarize themselves with the rules of the area to ensure compliance.
As for the vessels in the United States, the USGC (the United States Coast Guard) has clear standards:
You should have a fire extinguisher onboard when:
- There’s a closed engine compartment with fuel tanks
- Your boat has closed compartments
- There’s an inboard engine
- The boat has gas tanks permanently installed in it
In addition, there are rules on how many and what type of extinguishers you should have on your boat.
- Vessels shorter than 26 feet are required to have one B-1 extinguisher.
- Boats between 26 and 40 feet should have a single B-II extinguisher (Or, two B-1 extinguishers)
- Lastly, if your boat is between 40 and 65 feet, you should have one B-II extinguisher and a single B-1 extinguisher. (Or, three B-1 extinguishers).
Other USGC guidelines include ensuring that the fire extinguisher is easily accessible and securely mounted. Plus, it shouldn’t be located near potential hazards.
Similarly, other countries may have different sets of rules for different types or sizes of boats.
Importance of Complying with Regulations
Compliance with the regulations of your respective area/country isn’t only important for legal reasons.
These regulations are there for a reason; to make sure the passengers and crew remain safe during a fire incident.
A properly-stored fire extinguisher can make all the difference when it comes to keeping everyone safe.
How to Ensure Your Fire Extinguisher is in Good Working Order
A fire extinguisher is a crucial safety equipment, so you need to make sure it’s in working condition all the time.
You need it in its perfect condition in case of a fire on the boat.
Tips for Checking Fire Extinguishers
Check its expiration date: A fire extinguisher can expire, so you want to keep a tab on its expiration date.
Look for physical damage: Physical damage such as leaks, dents, and rust can render a fire extinguisher useless.
Check if your extinguisher has any signs of physical damage; don’t hesitate to replace it if it does.
Check its pressure gauge: Most fire extinguishers have a pressure gauge that showcases their charging status. If the needle of the gauge isn’t in the green zone, it’s time to recharge the unit.
Shake the extinguisher: Some manufacturers recommend shaking dry chemical extinguishers every month. You may also want to pat its bottom to prevent the powder from settling down at the bottom.
Common Signs of Damage
The most common signs of damage would be cracks, dents, and corrosion.
Other signs include:
- The pressure gauge shows a low charge
- Blocked nozzle
- A significant reduction in the weight of the extinguisher (Indicates a drop in pressure or leakage)
- Powder clumped together at the bottom
- Broken safety pin
Keep Your Boat Safe: Store Your Fire Extinguisher Correctly
We’ve established that a fire extinguisher is a must-have piece of equipment in a boat.
But, having one on board isn’t enough. You need to make sure it’s working properly and is stored correctly.
The most suitable locations for a fire extinguisher on a boat are:
- Engine compartment
Consider the pros and cons of each location before storing your extinguisher in one of them.
Moreover, know about the legalities of using fire extinguishers on boats in your area.
Plus, check the unit for any damage and malfunction every once in a while to ensure it’s ready to use in case of a fire emergency.
Again, storing the extinguisher in the right location is super important. The goal is to make it easily and quickly accessible.