How To Mount Fire Extinguishers In A Boat

Mounting fire extinguishers in a boat is not difficult. The main requirement is that this safety equipment is installed near potential fire hazards, is visible, and is easily accessible onboard.

A boat fire extinguisher will hopefully never be used, and they can be disposed of at the end of the vessel’s life.

However, if needed during a boat fire, they must be immediately available, visible, and easy to access because there is nothing more useless than an extinguisher that can’t be used to extinguish a fire. 

This article explains how and where the fire extinguishers on a boat must be mounted. I also list the new regulations which came into effect on 1st April 2022 and how these affect you.

🧯 Mounting Fire Extinguishers In Your Boat 

No regulations require that they should be mounted in your boat.

For the following reasons, it is a good practice to make sure the mount for the fire extinguishers meets the following criteria:

  • It secures them in a specific location, making them easy to identify.
  • Securing the unit in an open location makes it easily seen by guests.
  • It protects them and prevents getting damaged in rough seas.

The Steps To Mount Fire Extinguishers In Your Boat

The steps below should be followed when determining the best place to store a fire extinguisher on your boat.

1️⃣ Identify A Suitable Location

The location and number of the ones you choose, which may be more than regulations require, is essential.

As a rule, they must be easily accessible and visible.

The fire risks related to the type of boat should be assessed. Once the risks are understood, the extinguishers should be installed in the appropriate locations.

They should also be located near any high-risk areas. 

If the boat has the following facilities, a fire extinguisher is easily reached when needed.

  • A galley with gas cooker.
  • An inboard engine compartment.
  • In or near the cockpit for easy access by the captain.
  • Near gas tanks or compartments where the fuel is stored.

2️⃣ Choose The Bracket

Most of them are distributed with an approved bracket.

In almost every instance, this is the most suitable mounting method. It is designed to secure them while allowing easy retrieval.

If it is heavier than 10 lbs. (4kg), ensure that the bracket is heavy-duty and can support the weight.

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3️⃣ Mount The Brackets

Before mounting it, test fit it to ensure that it can be easily removed and that no fittings interfere with it.

Ensure that the proposed location is solid and can carry the weight of the bracket and fire extinguisher.

If the designated location is sold timber, it can be mounted with appropriately sized wood screws.

If the location is a fiberglass panel that you can access both sides of, we recommend the following.

  • Place it in a location and mark the position of the mounting holes.
  • You drill a suitably sized hole through the panel.
  • Place a washer on the bolt and insert it through the mounting hole.
  • Insert the bolt through the drilled hole.
  • Smear Loctite Threadlocker onto the bolt thread.
  • Place a washer on the reverse side of the bolt.
  • Screw the nut down tightly.
  • Add a second one to act as a lock nut.

🛥 What Are The Regulations Re Fire Extinguishers In Boats?

Federal law requires two conditions determining how many approved fire extinguishers are required on a boat.

If a boat meets any of the two conditions below, they are required to have one or more of them installed.

Condition One – Boat Facilities

A boat with the following features must carry a Class B fire extinguisher.

PositionBoat Facilities
EngineIf an inboard engine is installed, a fire extinguisher is required
Permanent Gas TanksIf permanent gas tanks are installed, a fire extinguisher is required
Living AreasIf there are closed living areas, a fire extinguisher is required
Toxic Or Flammable MaterialsIf toxic or flammable materials are carried, a fire extinguisher is required.
Spaces That Are Capable Of Trapping FumesA fire extinguisher is required if a double-bottomed hull is not completely filled with flotation material. A fire extinguisher is required if there are closed compartments in which portable gas tanks are placed. A fire extinguisher is required if there are enclosed storage compartments in which flammable or combustible materials are stored.

Condition Two – Size Of Boat 

The boat size determines the number of fire extinguishers that are carried.

The number and type of one are also governed by the regulations listed below.

Boats Built In 2018 Or After

LengthThe Minimum Number Of Portable Fire Extinguishers Rated As 5-B That Are Required
 If there Is Not A Fixed, Permanently Plumbed In Fire System In The Space Containing The MachineryIf there Is A Fixed, Permanently Plumbed In Fire System In The Space Containing The Machinery
Under 16 feet10
16 but less than 26 feet10
26 but less than 40 feet21
40 up to 65 feet32
NOTE – The regulation state that vessels can carry only fire extinguishers rated as 5-B or 20-B that have a valid date stamp

Boats Built Between 1953 And 2017

Length (feet)The Minimum Required B-I/5-B Or B-II/20-B Portable Fire Extinguishers Required 
 If there Is Not A Fixed, Permanently Plumbed In Fire System In The Space Containing The MachineryIf there Is A Fixed, Permanently Plumbed In Fire System In The Space Containing The Machinery
Under 16 feet10
16 but less than 26 feet10
26 but less than 40 feet21
40 up to 65 feet32

⚠️ The regulations state that vessels are only allowed to carry fire extinguishers rated as 5-B or 20-B that have a valid date stamp, or these older boats may carry fire extinguishers rated as B-I or B-II.

Note: Applicable To Both Tables

  • One portable fire extinguisher rated as 20-B can be substituted with two 5-B portable fire extinguishers. This does not apply to 10-B fire extinguishers, which may not replace two 5-B fire extinguishers.
  • All fire extinguishers must state on the label Marine Type – USCG Approved.

However, you should install more fire extinguishers if you determine your boat is at an increased risk.

In addition to fire extinguishers, we also recommend the following.

  • Keep an approved fire blanket on hand as a useful tool to extinguish fires or to assist people being burnt.
  • A fire or heat alarm is mounted in the galley and inboard motor engine compartment.


Can You Mount A Fire Extinguisher Sideways On A Boat? 

It is legally acceptable to mount a fire extinguisher sideways on a boat. The reasons why a vertical positioning is optimal are as follows.

  • A vertically installed fire extinguisher is easier to identify in an emergency. This is more relevant if guests are on the boat who do not know all the details.
  • It is easier to inspect a fire extinguisher and read the label if it is mounted vertically.

How Long Can You Keep A Fire Extinguisher On A Boat? 

The length of time a fire extinguisher can be kept on a boat is determined by whether it is disposable or rechargeable.

Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers
A rechargeable fire extinguisher can be recharged once it has been expended. These units have an unlimited life span. However, they must be serviced annually by an approved technician. 

Disposable Fire Extinguishers:
Disposable ones must be removed and disposed of within 12 years from the date of manufacture.

🔑 Key Takeaways

The amended US Coast Guard regulations dictate the quantity and type of fire extinguishers required on a boat sailing in US waters.

Installing them correctly is not difficult. It’s also essential to store fire extinguishers in the right place. They should remain visible and easy to access.

Fire extinguishers are important safety devices. However, even though federal regulations dictate how many must be installed on a boat, compliance should never be the only reason they are carried in a boat.

If a fire starts, they are the first line of defense and may make the difference between surviving and losing their lives.

It is crucial, irrespective of the size boat, that you carefully consider the number and locations of the fire extinguishers. If necessary, seek professional advice.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.