New USCG Fire Extinguisher Regulations Effective April 20, 2022
Starting April 20, 2022, new U.S. Coast Guard regulations will go into effect with regards to disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguisher dates of manufacture, as well as the label for their USCG classification. The new rules mandate an expiration date of 12 years from the date of manufacture. Boaters can find the manufacture date stamped into the bottom of the bottle or near the UL label. Additionally, while the new regulations do not change the type or quantity of fire extinguishers required aboard, they do specify the minimum Underwriter Laboratory (UL) classification of extinguishers to be carried — depending on the boat’s model year.
These rule changes are the result of phasing out older “B-I” and “B-II” classification labels in favor of newer “5-B”, “10-B” and “20-B” extinguisher classifications. The number in this new rating refers to the size in square feet of the potential fire the device is suitable to extinguish and not the weight of the dry chemical inside the bottle.
Vessels that are less than 26 feet and model year 2017 or older may continue to carry older, dated or undated “B-I” or “B-II” disposable extinguishers. However, when they are no longer serviceable or have reached 12 years since manufacture, they must be replaced with newer class “5-B” or greater extinguishers. To be serviceable, undated portable extinguishers must have a pressure gauge indicating an operable range, lock pin firmly installed, clean discharge nozzle, and no significant corrosion or damage.
Boats less than 26 feet and 2018 model year or newer must carry un-expired “5-B”, “10-B” or “20-B” fire extinguishers. Having older “B-I” and “B-II” types will not meet the new requirements.
For boats 26 feet or greater, however, having one “10-B” aboard does not equal two 5-Bs. Only a “20-B” classification meets the requirement to carry two “5-B” extinguishers.
There are no changes to the regulations for rechargeable or fixed-mount (i.e., engine room) extinguishers. They continue to require regular maintenance and servicing, typically done annually.