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U.S. Coast Guard Updates Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Ensure your portable onboard fire extinguishers meet new regulations set by the U.S. Coast Guard that go into effect on April 20, 2022.

Fire extinguisher expiration date

Many disposable fire extinguishers have the date of manufacture stamped into the bottom of the bottle. You’ll often find fire-extinguisher classification and size listed on the side of the canister. (Photos: Ted Sensebrenner/BoatUS Foundation)

In a nutshell, if any disposable (nonrechargeable) fire extinguisher has a date of manufacture stamped on the bottle and it is older than 12 years, the extinguisher is now considered "expired," must be removed from service, and replaced. Additionally, while the new regulation doesn’t change the type (U.S. Coast Guard-rated), quantity, or requirement for fire extinguishers aboard, it does specify the minimum Underwriters Laboratories (UL) classification of extinguishers to be carried aboard certain vessels, depending on the boat’s model year. This is the result of phasing out older B-I and B-II labels for newer 5-B, 10-B and 20-B classifications.

Vessels less than 26 feet and model year 2017 or older may continue to carry dated or undated B-I or B-II disposable extinguishers. When no longer serviceable, or it’s been 12 years since manufacture, they must be replaced with newer class 5-B or greater extinguishers. Boats less than 26 feet and 2018 model year or later must carry unexpired 5-B, 10-B, or 20-B fire extinguishers. Older B-I and B-II types do not meet the new carriage requirements. Expired extinguishers may be carried aboard for backup but do not count toward the requirement.

Many retailers offer 10-B class fire extinguishers, which may be a good choice as they exceed U.S. Coast Guard minimum carriage requirements for boats under 26 feet while giving boaters more extinguishing coverage. For boats 26 feet or larger, however, having one 10-B aboard does not equal two 5-Bs.

Visit to learn how many and what type of fire extinguishers are required aboard all recreational boats up to 65 feet. Still not sure if yours needs replacing? You’ll also find a helpful decision tree there to help you.

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Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.