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Harbor Safety

Your Harbor Committee is working on Harbor safety issues, one of which is fire suppression. Following are guidelines approved by the Coast Guard. The information is courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Power Squadron.


Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers are required on boats where a fire hazard could be expected from the motors or the fuel system. A letter and number symbol classify extinguishers. The letter indicates the type of fire the unit is designed to extinguish. The number indicates the relative size of the extinguisher. The higher the number, the larger the extinguisher. Approved extinguishers for boats are hand portable, either B-I or B-II classification, and have a specific marine type mounting bracket.

Extinguisher markings can be confusing because extinguishers can be approved for several different types of hazard. For instance, an extinguisher marked "Type A, Size II, Type B:C, Size I" is a B-I extinguisher. Look for the part of the label that says "Marine Type USCG."


Inspect extinguishers monthly to make sure that:

  • Seals and tamper indicators are not broken or missing.
  • Pressure gauges or indicators read in the operable range (C02 extinguishers do not have gauges).
  • There is no obvious physical damage, rust, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles.
Weigh extinguishers annually to assure that the minimum weight is as stated on the label.
Replace or take your extinguishers to a qualified fire extinguisher servicing company if any of the above conditions are not met.


The number of fire extinguishers required on a recreational boat is based on the overall length of the boat. In the case where a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishing system is installed for the protection of the engine compartment, the required number of units may be reduced in accordance with the chart below.

Vessel Length No Fixed System With Approved Fixed System
Less than 26’ 1 B-I 0
26’ to less than 40' 2 B-I or 1 B-II 1 B-I
40’ to 65’ 3 B-I or 1 B-II 2 B-I     or       1 B-II & 1 B-I 

       Thank You,
       Michael A. Meda

(Published in the April 2008 issue of The MAST.)


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