Where Is The Best Place To Store A Fire Extinguisher On A Boat?

Boating activities like fishing or recreational sailing can be fantastic fun. But you have to take proper safety precautions both to remain firmly within the boundaries of the law, and so you can act quickly in the face of any potential dangers. 

Fires can be extremely dangerous on a watercraft. There’s nowhere to escape except for the water if a boat catches fire and burns down. If you find yourself in the middle of the ocean, this can be incredibly dangerous. Even if you are boating on a lake or off the coast, you never want your boat to catch fire if you can prevent it.

The best way to prevent a fire, of course, is with proper safety precautions. But in the event any sort of fire occurred, having a fire extinguisher is crucial. But to use a fire extinguisher safely and quickly, you will need to store it in the perfect location. Let’s discuss the best place to store a fire extinguisher on a boat.

Do You Need A Fire Extinguisher On The Boat?

Absolutely. Although it may seem counterintuitive, fires on watercraft can be highly hazardous. Boat fires can eat through a ship’s hull and potentially cause severe damage and injury to both the vessel and its occupants. 

Fire extinguishers allow you to put out an emergency fire and remain afloat, either to continue your journey or to stay safe long enough for the Coast Guard or other rescue services to reach you in the event of serious damage.

What Are The Rules Around Fire Extinguishers?

Aside from the practical benefits of having a fire extinguisher on your boat, you also need to have at least one fire extinguisher to adhere to US Coast Guard rules. If you are ever found not to be in adherence to marine fire extinguisher requirements, you could face a fine or even lose your boating license.

Here’s a breakdown of the extensive marine fire extinguisher rules you should keep in mind.

First, if your boat has an engine and:

  • Has closed compartments for its fuel tank OR
  • Has a double bottom that isn’t filled to the hull OR
  • Has close living spaces OR
  • Has an inboard engine OR
  • Has permanently installed fuel tanks

Then you need at least one fire extinguisher. Furthermore:

  • Boats 26 feet or less in size are required to have at least one hand portable fire extinguisher on board at all times.
  • Boats sized between 26 and 40 feet need two "B-1" extinguishers or at least one "B-2" fire extinguisher onboard. B-1 extinguishers are smaller in capacity so that each extinguisher can put out less of a fire than a single B-2 extinguisher.
  • Similarly, boats sized 40 to 65 feet need three B-1 extinguishers or a combination of one B-1 and one B-2 fire extinguisher onboard.
  • Boats over 65 feet in size need between one and eight B-2 fire extinguishers at minimum, depending on different factors.

So, Where Should You Store Your Extinguisher?

It’s simple. Store your fire extinguisher(s) where they can easily be reached and in high-traffic areas where fires are likely to occur. These locations are the kitchen, cabin, hull, and bilge.

Alternatively, you can store one or more fire extinguishers in places where you have flammable liquids or materials, such as gasoline storage closets or the engine room.

However, never place your fire extinguisher next to the engine or a fuel tank. If one of these areas were to catch fire suddenly, you might also lose your fire extinguisher. Remember, you have to be able to access your extinguisher for it to be of any value.

In other words, you need to find a balanced location that:

  • Is not too close to a possible fire location that it will get caught in the blaze before you can reach it.
  • Is ALSO in an area close enough to a fire that you can use the extinguisher on the fire immediately after retrieving it.

Other Considerations

If you have a lot of different potential areas where you can set up a fire extinguisher, consider these significant factors to help you narrow down the most suitable locations:

  • Is the location at a safe distance from any high-risk areas, like the engine?
  • Is the prospective fire extinguisher location visible and accessible for all crew members? If your boat is too large for one extinguisher to be easily accessible, purchase multiple and mount them at logical places.
  • After determining where you should store a fire extinguisher, make sure you have the mounting equipment so you can place it securely on the wall. Wall-mounted fire extinguishers are best, as they can be retrieved quickly and easily. You should also organize other equipment so that nothing blocks access to the extinguisher in an emergency.
  • Mount fire extinguishers at an angle to stop the chemicals from settling at the bottom of their canisters.
  • Mount heavy fire extinguishers closer to the floor. Fire extinguishers heavier than 40 pounds should be mounted no more than 3.5 feet above the deck.

Replacing A Fire Extinguisher

One last thing — always be sure to replace fire extinguishers from time to time. While your extinguishers technically do not “go bad” if you store them properly, they do have expiration dates. The expiration dates indicate when an extinguisher may not function correctly in a pinch.

Replace fire extinguishers if you see that they are damaged, corroded, leaking, or if they have to be turned upside down to operate.