Boating Basics Online is reader-supported. When you buy via our links, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more

Where Should Fire Extinguishers Be Stored on a Boat?

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

Where Should Fire Extinguishers Be Stored on a Boat

Although you’re surrounded by water when sailing, fire incidents can still take place. To prepare for an emergency, think of this question: Where should fire extinguishers be stored on a boat?

This is a safety matter, so you have to be insightful. The US Coast Guard requires boats to have a portable fire extinguisher that is either classified as B-I or B-II. The number of extinguishers that your boat needs is based on its size.

Before buying fire extinguishers, let this article guide you to come up with your decision.

What are Class B Fire Extinguishers?

The letter B in Class B fire extinguishers means barrel. Hence, you can relate it to flammable liquids and gases namely gasoline, petroleum, paint, and oil. It is common knowledge that they’re hazardous and spread quickly.

Flammable substances are aggressive in a massive amount. The last thing that you can do is to mollify them with water. It’s impossible to control the grease on fire as it’s way hotter than the water’s boiling point.

You ought to know that when water and grease are combined, steam will appear. This steam will expand and splatter in no time. Then, fire spreads and causes burns.

Class B fire extinguishers are filled with pressurized carbon dioxide, ammonium phosphate, or halogenated agents. These contents are in powder or foam. You can utilize any of them to put out fire created by flammable liquids.

Fire extinguishers with dry chemicals are suitable for getting rid of fire from flammable gases.

Reasons to Store Fire Extinguishers on Your Boat

Don’t forget that you have to be careful with combustible fuel in your boat. As long as you use the appropriate fuel stabilizer, substandard combustion won’t occur while maintaining the cleanliness of the fuel system cleaner.

You can rely on fuel stabilizers like STA-BIL Storage Fuel Stabilizer, Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment, and QuikSilver Quikstor Fuel Treatment.

Aside from the combustible fuel, the following reasons will oblige you to secure fire extinguishers on your boat.

  • An enclosed area for cooking
  • Permanently installed fuel tank
  • Presence of heavy fuel tanks are hard to transfer around
  • Enclosed engine components
  • Engine tanks are stored in seat compartments
  • Some areas without a floatation device
  • There are double bottoms that are not permanently used to cover the hull

The Number of Fire Extinguishers on Boats Required by the Authorities

You can correctly store the fire extinguisher in your boat if it’s in the required size. You don’t need a bulky one that may give you trouble.

According to the US Coast Guard, the correct quantity of fire extinguishers that you have to get is based on your boat’s size. Here are some charts and guidelines to get the appropriate number and size of fire extinguishers for your boat.

Extinguisher Type and Size Classification Foam  Carbon Dioxide Dry Chemical
B – I 1.25 gallons minimum 4 pounds minimum 2 lbs minimum
B – II 2.50 gallons minimum 15 pounds minimum 10 lbs minimum
Vessel Length in Ft No Installed Fire Extinguisher System With Installed Fire Extinguisher System
Smaller than 26 ft One B-I None
26 ft to 40 ft Two B-I or one B-II One B -I
40 ft to 65 ft Three B-I or one B-I together with one B-II Two B – I or One B – II

Classifications of CLASS B Fire Extinguisher

USCG CLASS UL-Listed Equivalent Foam (gal) CO2 (lb) Dry Chemical (lb)
B-I 5 B:C 1.25 4 2
B-II 10 B:C 2.5 15 10

Boats shorter than 26 feet don’t need a fire extinguisher at all. However, they won’t be released when used for the commercial purpose of carrying passengers and with the construction that can entrap flammable and explosive liquids or gases.

You do not need to get fire extinguishers if your small boat is for recreation and fishing. Having a built-in fire extinguisher in the engine compartment will subtract one B-I extinguisher from what is required. Take note that B-I is smaller than B-II.

The Federal government mandates those who own 65-foot and larger boats to have a fire extinguisher system. Due to this requirement, you need to measure your engine room. The system is rated by cubic feet per coverage.

There are fire suppressants inside an extinguishing system. They are usually kept in liquid form. However, they become gas when released. The system can be manually set off if necessary.

There’s also a temperature sensor that will compel you to move quickly. The engine should be shut off as well as generators, blowers, and related sets of equipment. These parts may need fresh oxygen to restart and discharge fire suppressants.

Where the Fire Extinguishers Should Be


Though you’ll be in dire need of fire extinguishers during an emergency, you still have to place them in an area that is not easy to reach and away from damages. Just make sure that it’s accessible.

A fire extinguisher should be standing upright in an open area. In this setup, you will be able to check it regularly. Possible options are the cabin, bilge, hull, and kitchen. Identifying the traffic areas in your boat is also necessary.

If you are unsure, you can ask yourself these questions:

  •  Are there flammable liquids on the boat and where are they located?
  •  Is there a kitchen and galley in the boat? Is it cleaned regularly?
  •  Where is the hang-out spot for the passengers in the boat?
  •  Where is the gas tank?
  •  How often is dirt and garbage cleaned from the boat?

A three-foot clearance is needed when mounting a fire extinguisher. This is also to guarantee accessibility in times of emergency. The angle is important so the liquid or the powder inside the extinguisher won’t just settle at the bottom.

Furthermore, the extinguisher’s content becomes compacted when it remains at the bottom part. It depends on the duration that it persists in a horizontal position.

What can happen is that the propellant will come out of the extinguisher instead of the extinguishing agent, and it will be useless in helping you dampen the fire.

You don’t have to think too hard about where you will exactly place the fire extinguisher. For instance, you may place it in your kitchen or cooking area. Some have it next to the gas tank. The kitchen should be in order and free of any oil splash or trash.

You can consider placing it in the areas that may pose a fire hazard. It is smart to determine the fire zone, such as the most crowded area in the boat aside from the kitchen.

After picking out the right place for the extinguisher, you have to collect the necessary brackets, belts, and mounting hardware. Since the boats can be in different motions when on the water, it is important to choose a proper holder of extinguisher to prevent incidents.

Maintenance of Boat’s Fire Extinguishers


Storing the fire extinguishers in the right place will be useless without maintenance. In the USA, the National Fire Code set by NFPA or National Fire Protection Agency covers the handling of fire extinguishers everywhere.

The code necessitates inspecting fire extinguishers every 30 days or less. They should be tested every year too. Replacements are required after 10 years even though you haven’t used them.

A date is stamped at the bottom or neck of the extinguisher. So, it’s essential to check. It should be embossed on the steel canister. Here are some things that you have to be aware of:

  • Leaks and damages on seals and hoses
  • Tamper signs to discover if something is missing or lost
  • Pressure indicators or gauges
  • The extinguisher should be void of rust, corrosion, clogged nozzles, leakages, and physical damage
  • Test your extinguisher to determine if you need to replace it or not.

Final Words

It’s natural to be concerned about where fire extinguishers should be stored on a boat to be prepared for an emergency. You also have to be mindful of its mounting position so when the time comes, it can serve its purpose properly.

Even though you can rely on your fire extinguisher, big fires need to be managed by professionals. When the fire comes up to the waist, you have to call 911 for help.

5/5 - (3 votes)