Video: Fiberglass Boat Fire / Onboard Fire Safety Info

Didn’t take long for that little boat to become engulfed in flames, reaching temps close to 1000 degrees fahrenheit. YIKES! Scary. Boat fires happen often, and many times when no one is aboard. However there is little luck involved with a boat fire….

Since Spring refuses to bear it’s face around here on the East Coast, it’s difficult to get to most boats, much less get the project lists, underway. That makes it a great time to start working from the inside out on your launching to-do list.  Safety – updated flares, working horns and PFDs, seem to make the top of everyone’s spring checklist, but when was the last time you checked your fire extinguishers? Hopefully the answer is last season, but after months in storage and in varying temps, it’s a great time to make sure you have the right equipment working properly to keep you alive in the event of an onboard fire.

While we have your attention, take a few minutes to review the ABC’s of marine firefighting. Here are some basics to know from our friends at Boat US.

A man demonstrating the PASS technique for fighting a fire.

Fire Extinguishers 
The Coast Guard requires boats to have at least one B-1 marine fire extinguisher on board. Depending on the size of your boat you may need more than one. Boats under 26′ have to have at least one B-1 fire extinguisher on board. Boats 26′-40′ need to have at least two B-1 fire extinguishers on board. If the boat has a USCG approved fire extinguisher system installed for protection of the engine compartment, then the units may be reduced. Please refer to the chart for the number of extinguishers required for your boat. Our recommendation is to have a tri-class (1A:10BC) fire extinguisher on board your boat. We also suggest you have more than the Coast Guard requires. Now we know how many we need on board, but how do they work?

How to use a Fire Extinguisher

A person fighting a controled fire on land in an empty parking lot.

Know how to use a fire extinguisher before you are in a situation where you have to use it. Fire extinguishers are labeled according to the type of fire on which they may be used. Fires involving wood or cloth, flammable liquids, electrical current or a combination of those will each react differently to extinguishers. Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a particular type of fire could be dangerous and make matters even worse.Simply Remember the P-A-S-S Word!In the heat of the moment reading the directions on the extinguisher is an after-thought.

  1. Pull the pin at the top of the cylinder
  2. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
  3. Squeeze or press the handle
  4. Sweep the contents from side to side at the base of the fire until it goes out

Fire extinguishers are labeled with the type of fire they can suppress. Most common marine fire extinguisher will be labeled as B:C or A:B:C.

Vessel Length No Fixed System With approved Fixed Systems
Less than 26′ 1 B-1 0
26′ to less than 40′ 2 B-1 or 1 B-II 1 B-1
40′ to 65′ 3 B-1 or 1 B-II and 1 B-1 2 B-1 or 1 B-II

Testers’ Choice:

Staff Choice: First Alert Extinguisher by Kitty.

The Kidde and First Alert 1-A:10-B:C are the Foundation picks for best all around for the price. About $5 more per extinguisher will give you the added security when trying to put out a small fire aboard your boat.