By Jean McCormick – June 2022
Now is a good time to look at the fire extinguisher in your boat. Beginning April 20, 2022, new U S Coast Guard regulations take effect, on Federal waters, that change extinguisher expiration dates and the minimum classification of fire extinguishers carried aboard newer boats. This is a Change in Federal law and will not affect boaters on Lake Anna because Lake Anna is “sole state waters” and does not fall under Federal regulations . But, if you take your boat on Federal waters, (the Potomac or Rappahannock Rivers, Chesapeake Bay…) this law will be in effect, and you will be expected to have updated your fire extinguishers.
The new U S Coast Guard regulation puts a 12-year expiration on all disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguishers. The manufacturers’ date may be two or four digits (ex. 16 or 2016) stamped on the bottom of the bottle or near the UL label.
The other big change: boats that are model year 2018 or newer must carry a newer “5-B, 10B and 20-B” classified extinguisher rather than those with older “B-I” and “B-II” labels which are being phased out. The number in the new labels refer to the size (in square feet) of a potential fire the device is suitable to extinguish. For boats less than 26 feet and 2018 model year and newer, a fire extinguisher must be an unexpired “5-B”, or “10-b” or “20-B”. For 2018 models and newer recreational boats 26-65 feet, requirements vary. (Check the table below.)
If your boat is a 2017 model or older, you may carry the older “B-I” or “B-II” disposable extinguishers until their 12-year expiration date. Then they must be replaced with the newer class extinguishers: either a 5-B-C or a 10-B-C or 20-B-C. Local landfills will accept expired fire extinguishers.
The 12-year expiration date puts the U S Coast Guard regulations in line with the National Fire Protection Association’s recommendation.
You can assume that the U S Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadron’s VESSEL SAFETY CHECK program will include this new regulation as part of their free, no-penalty, vessel exams.