7 Best Fire Extinguishers for Boats

Reviewed by an Emergency Services Professional: This article was reviewed by James*, a trained firefighter. However, this information is stated as personal opinion for our circumstances and does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise, to you and your circumstances, or guarantee quality or fit for purpose of the following products. By visiting and using this website, you accept and agree to be bound by our Disclaimer along with our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy posted on the website. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases. USCG regulations may have changed since this article was first written.

The United States Coastguard (USCG) has strict regulations regarding the type of fire extinguisher people should have on their boats.

In August 2016, the Coastguard adopted the UL certification standard which has made it a lot easier to be in compliance with regulation.

These were the USCG’s fire extinguisher requirements instituted in 2016:

best fire extinguishers for boats

*Regulations change regularly and we cannot guarantee the currency of the regulations at the time you read the article.

A UL 5-B fire extinguisher (or greater) is an extinguisher that is capable of putting out 5 square feet of Class B (liquid) fires. Most extinguishers that fit this UL rating are 2.5 or 5 pound dry chemical ABC fire extinguishers. The extinguisher also needs a clearly visible pressure gauge and approved mounting bracket to be compliant. (Formerly USCG B-I extinguishers).

A UL 20-B fire extinguisher (or greater) is an extinguisher that is capable of putting out 20 square feet of Class B (liquid) fires. Most extinguishers that fit this UL rating are minimum 10 pound dry chemical ABC fire extinguishers. The extinguisher also needs a clearly visible pressure gauge and approved mounting bracket to be compliant. (Formerly USCG B-II extinguishers).

No matter the size of a boat, we personally feel it’s a good idea to have a marine rated fire extinguisher on a vessel. As James says:

James Says: “Of course, fires can occur on a boat of any size, so it’s always a good idea to carry an extinguisher even if not specifically required.”

Personally, we choose to stick to an Amerex USCG marine rated extinguisher for our circumstances. This is the best fire extinguisher brand on the market today in our opinion. Their quality and reputation is well known in the industry. They haven’t had the same quality and recall issues as some of their major competitors in the past decade. And their extinguishers usually come with high quality metal valves and gauges.

Furthermore, the Amerex extinguishers below still come with the UL sticker with the ‘Marine type …’ text on it, for added peace of mind.

But don’t forget that while we consulted professionals in our research, we’re not professionals and not offering personalized advice professional or otherwise to your circumstances, so seeking professional advice for your situation is a must.

With that said, these are what we feel are the best fire extinguishers for boats that meet USCG requirements:

The best fire extinguishers for boats (USCG Compliant) are:

  • Amerex B417T 2.5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical – (5-B Compliant)
  • Amerex B402 5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical – (5-B Compliant)
  • Amerex B456 10 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical – (20-B Compliant)
  • Ansul 436500 Sentry 10 lb ABC Fire Extinguisher – (20-B Compliant)
  • Shield Marine FX 13415M (5-B Non-Rechargeable)
  • Kidde Mariner 5 466179MTL M5G 5-B:C (5-B Non-Rechargeable)
  • First Alert 1039894 2.5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical – (5-B Compliant)

Best Fire Extinguishers for Boats (US Coastguard Compliant)

#

Fire Extinguisher

Class

Strength

Recharge Type

Quick Review

1. Amerex B417T 2.5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical Class A, Class B, Class C 5-B Rechargeable This is the best US Coastguard 5-B compliant fire extinguisher in the 2.5 pound category in our personal opinion. It’s compact and portable for discrete storage on a boat. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
2. Amerex B402 5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical Class A, Class B, Class C 5-B Rechargeable This step up to the 5 pound size can give more discharge for fighting larger incipient fires, but still sits in the same US Coastguard 5-B category as the B417T above. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
3. Amerex B456 10 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical Class A, Class B, Class C 20-B Rechargeable This is our choice for the best 20-B / B-II extinguisher for larger boats. It has the quality build we have come to expect from Amerex fire extinguishers. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
4. Ansul 436500 Sentry 10 lb ABC Fire Extinguisher Class A, Class B, Class C 20-B Rechargeable This is a respectable 20-B / B-II certified extinguisher. It ships with the approved bracket for no-stress compliance with USCG regulations. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
5. Shield Marine FX 13415M Class A, Class B, Class C 5-B Non-Rechargeable This is a USCG approved non-rechargeable option made by a respectable made-in-USA extinguisher brand. It’s currently only available in stores.
6. Kidde Mariner 5 466179MTL M5G 5-B:C Class A, Class B, Class C 5-B Non-Rechargeable This is a USCG approved non-rechargeable option that’s compact and may be preferred for many people who don’t like rechargeable extinguishers. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)
7. First Alert 1039894 2.5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical Class A, Class B, Class C 5-B Rechargeable This is an affordable alternative, but we think the quality of the top 5 extinguishers outstrips the quality of this one. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

1. Amerex B417T 2.5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical (5-B / Old B-I Compliant)

Quick Review: We feel this is the best US Coastguard 5-B compliant fire extinguisher in the 2.5 pound category for our circumstances. It’s compact and portable for discrete storage on your boat.


The risk you run when you search “Fire Extinguisher for Boat” on Amazon is that nearly all of the results show up plastic junk fire extinguishers – or worse yet, those aerosol ones that aren’t even USCG compliant. We decided that it would be a good idea to avoid the plastic junk and go with this beauty for our circumstances. It might cost an extra few bucks, but we’d getting an actually decent quality USCG approved extinguisher.

The valve and pin are all metal and the gauge is clearly visible for coastguard inspection. There is an included bracket, and an approved bracket will be required to help secure the extinguisher to a boat to achieve USCG compliance.

Just a note: hanging an extinguisher on a hook doesn’t comply with USCG standards. An extinguisher specifically needs to be on an approved hook to be compliant with the USGC standards (check the rules yourself!).

We also like that this extinguisher doesn’t come with a hose. It makes it easier to control the extinguisher and there’s less in your way when trying to store it discretely.

The dimensions are: 15.5″ H x 5″ W x 3″ D.

Why This Extinguisher:

  • USCG Approved: As with all extinguishers on this list, this one is USCG approved.
  • High Quality Brand: Amerex is the premium brand – and rightly so. Several competitors have suffered recall issues in the past decade that Amerex has avoided. Their valve, pin and handle mechanisms are built of quality metals to prevent failure in a time of need.
  • Clear Gauge: US Coastguard inspectors will ping you if you don’t have a clearly visible pressure gauge. The gauge on this one’s really simple and easy to read at a glance.
  • Rechargeable: Another sign of a quality product, this one is rechargeable if it’s been discharged it out at sea. After discharge, it would need to be taken to a certified recharging agent (some fire stations offer this service for a fee).
  • Mount Included: A good quality mount comes in the pack. (Note that the ‘T’ version has a mounting bracket – as in B417T).

Keep in Mind:

  • It’s Small: We personally prefer 5 Lbs extinguishers wherever possible, but they are a little more expensive. Some smaller vessels may not have the space to step up to the B402 5 pounder (below), but we do like the extra discharge time from the Amerex B402.

2. Amerex B402 5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical (5-B / Old B-I Compliant)

Quick Review: This step up to the 5 pound size gives more discharge for fighting larger fires, but still sits in the same US Coastguard 5-B category as the B417T above.


There’s something about the B402 that we really like. It feels big and sturdy. The B402 has the required UL Label statement noting that it’s both 5-B and USCG B-I certified (exact wording: “Marine Type USCG Type A Size 2, Type B:C Size 1“).

We like how small and compact 2.5 pound extinguishers are and it’s great that they meet USCG requirements. But a 2.5 pound extinguisher doesn’t pack as much punch as this 5 pound extinguisher. The 5 pound version expels a lot more dry chemical and has about 50% more discharge time which may be a lifesaver if a fire breaks out in your motor. It’s also not really all that much bigger than the 2.5 pound version – it is the diameter that’s greater, not the height.

As always, we feel Amerex comes through in terms of quality as well. It has all aluminum valve and handle components and a similar clear gauge as the B417T.

Why This Extinguisher:

  • USCG Approved: As with all extinguishers on this list, this one is USCG approved.
  • More Power: This one has more substance and discharge time than the 2.5 pound version meaning it provides more power when it comes to fighting the fire.
  • Still Small: While it’s bigger than 2.5 pound versions, it’s still quite compact and the extra size is in the diameter, not the height. (Size: 15.25″ H x 7.75″ W x 4.25″ D).
  • Mount Included: It appears a good quality mount comes in the pack.
  • Clear Gauge: US Coastguard inspectors will ping you if you don’t have a clearly visible pressure gauge. The gauge on this one’s really simple and easy to read at a glance.
  • Rechargeable: Once discharged, users can take it to a certified recharging agent to get it back to compliance (some fire stations offer this service for a fee).

Keep in Mind:

  • Dexterity Required: The hose adds a little bit of an extra complication here. While the substance weighs 5 lbs., overall the unit weights 10 lbs. Operation requires users to hold this handle plus control the hose when pointing it at the fire. The 2.5 pound versions don’t have a hose.
  • Hose takes up Space: The hose is really the thing that takes up all that extra space in storage compared to the B417T which doesn’t come with a hose.

3. Amerex B456 10 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical (20-B / Old B-II Compliant)

Quick Review: This would be our pick for the best 20-B / B-II extinguisher if we had a larger boat. As an Amerex fire extinguisher, we trust their quality.


This is a larger extinguisher for larger boats. It has the required 20-B / B-II compliance text on the UL Label on the side of the extinguisher. We feel it’s also good for home use.

This extra size also means it packs much more of a punch. It has a 22 second discharge time and a longer 15-21 foot range so it could work with larger fires than some alternatives.

We feel the Amerex B456 and Ansul 436500 Sentry (below) are both high quality 20-B compliant extinguishers for larger boats. We lean toward the Amerex because we intuituvely trust the Amerex brand the most.

Why This Extinguisher:

  • 20-B / B-II Compliant: A 10 pound extinguisher is often required for 20-B compliance. The UL Label on the side of this one has the text ‘Marine Type USCG Type A Size 3, Type B:C Size 2‘ which signifies the old B-II compliance, too.
  • Long Discharge Time: We like how powerful this beauty is. It advertises 22 second discharge time and 15-21 foot range means.
  • Mount Included: A mount comes in the pack.
  • Clear Gauge: US Coastguard inspectors will ping you if you don’t have a clearly visible pressure gauge. The gauge on this one’s really simple and easy to read at a glance.
  • Rechargeable: Just take it to a certified recharging agent after use for a recharge (some fire stations offer this service for a fee).

Keep in Mind:

  • Only for Larger Boats: For boats less than 26 feet long, a 20-B compliant extinguisher is often not necessary. A 5-B may be enough according to the 2016 US coastguard regulations. Check current requirements.
  • Heavy and Hard to Carry: While the substance is 10 pounds, the overall weight is 16 pounds. According to the USCG a 20-B / B-II can be substituted for two 5-B / B-I extinguishers. So we see merit in getting two smaller more agile extinguishers that can be handled by two crew during a fire.
  • Takes up Space: The dimensions of this product are 20″ H x 7.75″ W x 5″ D.

4. Ansul 436500 Sentry 10 lb ABC Fire Extinguisher (20-B / Old B-II Compliant)

Quick Review: A respectable 20-B / B-II certified extinguisher. Ships with the approved bracket for no-stress compliance with USCG regulations.


Ansul has a reputation for being the next best brand after Amerex when it comes to high quality fire extinguishers. When shopping around for a value purchase, we check the price equivalent Amerex and Ansul models as they are comparable in quality so price becomes an important differentiating factor. (The prices are always changing so we suggest you compare the prices on Amazon).

We’re very impressed by this extinguisher. Its gauge is small but very clearly visible. The valve is all-metal and high quality. It also gives us confidence that Ansul explicitly states that the bracket that comes with the extinguisher is also USCG approved (it seems this is implied with the other extinguishers but not explicitly stated).

Its dimensions are slightly bigger than the B456, but not all that much (20.5″H x 8.25″W x 5.25″D).

Why This Extinguisher:

  • 20-B / B-II Compliant: 10 pound extinguishers are often required for 20-B / B-II compliance. Ansul clearly states on the extinguisher that this is USCG marine compliant to B:C ‘Size 2’ (aka old B-II compliance).
  • USCG Approved Mount Included: A good quality mount comes in the pack and it’s nice that Ansul explicitly states in their product catalog that the bracket is USCG approved.
  • Clear Gauge: US Coastguard inspectors will ping people if they don’t have a clearly visible pressure gauge. The gauge on this one’s really simple and easy to read at a glance.
  • Rechargeable: Like the Amerex products, this one is rechargeable so it can be reused after discharge by taking it to an extinguisher recharging point.

Keep in Mind:

  • Heavy and Hard to Carry: While the substance is 10 pounds, the overall weight is 16 pounds. According to the USCG a 20-B can be substituted for two 5-B extinguishers. So we see merit in getting two smaller more agile extinguishers that can be handled by two crew during a fire.
  • Size: This model is slightly larger than the B456 competitor.

5. Shield Marine FX 13415M (5-B / Old B-I Compliant)

Quick Review: This is a USCG approved non-rechargeable option made by a respectable made-in-USA extinguisher brand.

When James reviewed our original article on marine fire extinguishers, he highlighted that many recreational vessel owners prefer to use rechargeable extinguishers. He notes:

James Says: “As per NFPA-10, disposable/nonrechargeable extinguishers can continue to be inspected by the vessel owner and can simply be replaced after 12 years or earlier if they fail the owner’s periodic visual inspection. With this in mind, most recreational boats now have disposable extinguishers on board.”

(Please note that legislation is regularly changed and updated. We cannot guarantee the currency of this information, so you’ll need to check current requirements.)

So, James suggested that we look into some single-use non-rechargeable options. One quality (made in USA) option is the Shield Marine FC 13415M. Made by Buckeye, this extinguisher is a sodium bicarbonate based extinguisher with a UL Listed 10B:C rating, therefore exceeding the 5-B requirement.

Unfortunately this model is not available online, but is available widely in stores across the United States. The Shield Product Catalog outlines all the specifications for this model. 

Why This Extinguisher:

  • Single Use: Single use extinguishers have different inspection requirements that are often easier to meet. See the most up to date USCG requirements for your circumstances.
  • Made in USA: Shield extinguishers are some of the few extinguishers currently made in the USA. They are the retail brand of the highly regarded Buckeye Fire Equipment company.

Keep in Mind:

  • Non-Recharageable: We prefer recharageable models because they tend to be made with high quality materials and are better for the environment if you recharge them rather than throwing the container in the trash after every use.

6. Kidde Mariner 5 466179MTL M5G 5-B:C

Quick Review: This is a USCG approved non-rechargeable option that’s compact and an interesting option for operating a small vessel.


The Kidde Mariner 5 is another non-rechargeable USCG compliant fire extinguisher that we took a look at after James highlighted the benefits of single-use options. While Kidde is not always our first choice extinguisher, this one is USCG compliant and we were referred to it by someone we trusted.

This is a small compact option with 2 Lbs net agent weight and averaged gross weight of 2.85 Lbs. The diameter is only 3.25 inches and the height is less than 12 inches, making it an intriguing compact option for a smaller vessel with less room.

The dry chemical agent is the typical B:C agent for Class B (liquid) and Class C (electrical) fires, and the stock plastic bracket (type: 322057) is USCG compliant.

We also like that the gauge is very clear on this one with a clearly demarcated green strip to show whether it has maintained pressure at an acceptable level – good for that monthly eyeball of the extinguisher’s fit for use. 

Why This Extinguisher:

  • Single Use: Single use extinguishers have different inspection requirements that are often easier to meet. See the most up to date USCG requirements for your circumstances.
  • Fits in Small Space: Its dimensions are nice and compact for a very small recreational vessel.

Keep in Mind:

  • Non-Recharageable: We prefer recharageable models because they tend to be made with high quality materials and are better for the environment if you recharge them rather than throwing the container in the trash after every use.
  • Not a Lot of Chemical Agent: It’s not the most powerful extinguisher, with a mere 4 – 6 foot discharge range that is advertised to last 8 – 12 seconds.

7. First Alert 1039894 2.5 Lbs. ABC Dry Chemical (5-B / Old B-I Compliant)

Quick Review: When it comes to marine fire extinguishers we don’t personally consider dipping into the cheaper categories, but we did take a look at this one and it met our minimum requirements. Despite that, we still preferred some others higher on the list.


I mentioned earlier that the search results that popped up on Google when we searched for marine fire extinguishers were pretty junk. But this one’s probably the best one that pops up on the front page. We wouldn’t say this is the best marine fire extinguisher overall, but it’s one that doesn’t break the bank. It’s very much an affordable piece of equipment. But having said that, it’s non-rechargeable so once that pressure goes out of the green area on the pressure gauge users would have to buy another one.

Why This Extinguisher:

  • 5-B USCG Compliant: This one can pass a US coastguard check so long as it meets several requirements including that it’s in the provided mounting bracket and the pressure gauge is in the ‘green’ zone.
  • Affordable: This is the most affordable USCG compliant extinguisher on the list.
  • Comes with Mounting Bracket: At the time of first writing this review, the seller stated on the sales page that the mounting bracket is okay for USCG compliance.
  • Small: At just 14.2 inches tall, this is the smallest and most compact extinguisher on this list.
  • No Hose: We like that it doesn’t have a hose so it’s a lot easier to handle.

Keep in Mind:

  • Non-Recharageable: We prefer recharageable models because they tend to be made with high quality materials and are better for the environment if you recharge them rather than throwing the container in the trash after every use.
  • Brand Name: First Alert isn’t usually our first choice brand, but is nonetheless a well known and widely used brand in the industry.

What are the USCG Requirements for Fire Extinguishers on Boats?

The rules change constantly, and while we did our best to provide accurate information below, it’s a constantly changing landscape so it’s really important to check the full regulations for the most up to date information.

How many Fire Extinguishers do I need on my Boat?

The US coastguard recommends all vessels have fire extinguishers on boats. It is also mandatory to have extinguishers on most vessels.

The rules for fire extinguishing equipment for marine vessels are set out in the US Code of Federal Regulations, Title 46, Subchapter C, Part 25. The Shortcode for this section of the federal regulations is ’46 CFR 25.30-20′. The regulations are written in very difficult legal text, but you can click here to read the regulations in full.

These are the minimum requirements:

  • Less than 26 feet: Most of these vessels need at least one 20-B equivalent extinguisher.
  • More than 26 feet but Less than 40 feet: Most of these vessels need at least two 5- or one 20-B equivalent extinguisher.
  • More than 40 feet but less than 65 feet: Most of these vessels need at least three 5-B equivalent extinguishers or one 5-B and one 20-B equivalent extinguishers.

Here’ the simplification of those rules in an image:

best marine fire extinguisher

Remember, this information may be out of date by the time you read this article – so do your due diligence and check the most current rules!

Exemptions apply for non-commercial boats with exclusively outboard motors. But even an outboard motor vessel that has a closed compartment under thwarts or seats, spaces where portable fuel tanks can be stored, closed living spaces, or permanently installed fuel tanks, must contain a fire extinguisher. Vessels carrying paying passengers are very strictly monitored.

In other words, it’s highly likely mots vessels will need to comply with the fire extinguisher rules – and even if the vessel is exempt … it’s still probably a good idea to carry a fire extinguisher.

Vessels over 65 feet have additional requirements that we will not go into in this article.

Regardless of the above details, the USCG recommends fire extinguishers for all vessels no matter their purpose or size.

What Type of Fire Extinguishers do Boats Need (5-B or 20-B)?

Boat operators need to get either 5-B or 20-B (or above) certified extinguishers to be compliant with USCG regulations, depending on the vessel size (see chart above).

These ratings refer to the power of fire the extinguisher. The power is measured in part by the square footage of incipient flames that the extinguisher is capable of suppressing.

So a 5-B extinguisher can supposed;y suppress 5 square feet of Class B fire, while a 20-B extinguisher can suppress 20 square feet of Class B fire (when operated by a trained user).

In reality, most extinguishers don’t only suppress Class B fires. A common dry chemical fire extinguisher will usually suppress Class A, B and C extinguishers. So on the UL Label it will read something like: “10-A 5-B:C”.

A 10-B:C extinguisher (usually containing 5 Lbs of agent) will usually meet and exceed the 5-B requirement but it won’t meet the 20-B requirement. A boat will usually need a 20-B:C, 40-B:C or 60-B:C extinguisher for the 20-B requirement.

To cut through the jargon:

  • To meet 5-B standard: Usually a 2.5 pound or 5 pound ABC fire extinguisher will do. Check the UL Label.
  • To meet 20-B standard: Usually a 10 pound ABC fire extinguisher is required. Check the UL Label.

What Other Fire Extinguisher Requirements are There?

These requirements may not be accurate at the time you read this article. They were last updated when this article was first written. Check the most up to date regulations.

Pressure Gauge: The extinguisher must also have an easily visible pressure gauge. The pressure gauge must show that the extinguisher is fully charged and ready to go. If the coastguard inspects the extinguisher and its charge has moved into the red zone, they may hit the operator with a fine. It’d be as if you didn’t have an extinguisher on the boat at all!

Mounting Bracket: The extinguisher must be mounted on an approved mounting bracket. The mounting bracket that’s approved is the one the’s used during UL texting and the approved bracket’s code is written on the UL Label. Good brands usually include the approved bracket in the purchase, but that’s not always the case – especially when buying from resellers.

Ease of Access: Access to the extinguisher must not be obstructed.

Legible Instructions: If the instructions are faded, torn or unreadable, the extinguisher may need to be replaced.

No Evidence of Tampering: The extinguisher’s tamper indicators cannot be missing or broken.

See here for further information.

What are the USCG Maintenance Requirements for Fire Extinguishers?

The USCG follows NFPA 10 standards for fire extinguisher maintenance. The main requirement is that crew inspect the fire extinguisher monthly and keep an inspection record on the boat. A crew member needs to initial that they have completed the inspection and write-in the date. Inspections should cover the above requirements re: visibility of instructions, ease of access, full pressure. See NFPA 10 standards for full list.

Furthermore, rechargeable extinguishers need to get an annual inspection by a qualified fire extinguisher technician and this needs to be recorded in the fire extinguisher inspection sheet. James elaborates:

James Says: “As required by NFPA-10, rechargeable extinguishers aboard boats are now required to be annually serviced by a qualified technician, not merely inspected by the vessel owner or crew. They will also require the periodic maintenance specified by NFPA-10 depending on the extinguisher type.”

You’ll need to consult the USCG regulations for the most up-to-date information.

The USCG Changes in August 2016 (From B-I, B-II to 5-B, 20-B)

What are the Old USCG B-I and B-II Fire Extinguisher Standards?

Prior to August 2016, operators were required to follow the USCG B-I and B-II fire extinguisher ratings to be coastguard compliant. The classifications of “B-I” and “B-II” were unique to the US Coastguard but have now been discontinued.

Since August 2016, UL ratings have been adopted as standard, meaning B-I and B-II ratings are no longer necessary. They changed to UL compliance because it’s a lot easier to streamline the process by sticking to the standardized UL certifications.

Nonetheless, we have noticed that UL is still keeping the old ratings listed on their labels just to make the transition easier. So you may notice that an extinguisher may still have the old USCG approval text side. It will be in this format: “Marine Type USCG Type ____, Size ____, Approval No. 162.028/____.]”

To cut through all the jargon, here are the old minimum requirements:

  • For a B-I extinguisher: The minimum requirement was at least a 2-pound dry chemical Class B extinguisher (or equivalent). The new UL Label rating equivalence is 5-B.
  • For a B-II extinguisher: The minimum requirements was at least a 10-pound dry chemical Class B extinguisher (or equivalent). The new UL Label rating equivalence is 20-B.

Overall, this change has been good because it hugely simplifies the buying process.

What to Look for in a Quality Fire Extinguisher

a) Brand

Brands do matter when it comes to fire extinguishers. Without stating any names, several big brand extinguishers have had huge product recalls in the past 15 years. To be fair, it was respectable that they did the recalls out of abundance of caution so we don’t think we should drag their reputation through the mud for doing the right thing.

That said, we personally choose Amerex extinguishers due to their impeccable reputation. (We provide a full link to the full Amerex product catalog in the ‘sources’ list at the end of this article.) We also don’t mind Ansul or Buckeye extinguishers as premium quality brands in this space.

b) Metal Components

Some extinguishers come with plastic pins, valves and handles. We’re not fans of plastic extinguishers/ They’re well known for failing when needed most. So, we make sure we check to make sure the components are either aluminum or chrome (in very high quality extinguishers).

c) UL Certification at USCG Standard

We prefer an extinguisher this is UL certified to the required US Coastguard required standard (minimum 5-B or 20-B. See infographic above).

Something that drives us crazy is that nearly every other review of “Best fire extinguishers for boats” etc. on the internet (actually, every one we found when writing this article) recommends cheap aerosol extinguishers that don’t even meat US Coastguard requirements! What the heck!?

d) Type

Fire extinguishers are specially designed to fight different types of fires. Here’s just a quick run down of the different types of fires:

  • Class A: Regular combustibles (wood, paper, plastic, etc.)
  • Class B: Liquid and gas fires (e.g. gasoline, oil, etc.)
  • Class C: Electrical fires
  • Class D: Combustible metal fires
  • Class F: Kitchen fires

The US Coastguard requires that an extinguisher is certified for at least a Class B – 5 extinguisher.

e) Size

There are generally three sizes of extinguisher: 2.5 Lbs, 5 Lbs and 10 Lbs.

The 2.5 Lbs and 5 Lbs extinguishers are usually high enough to meet the USCG 5-B requirement but not big enough to meet the USCG 20-B requirement.

The 10 Lbs extinguishers usually meet the 20-B requirement.

f) Mounting Bracket

A vessel operator needs to mount their extinguisher in a certified mounting bracket for it to be USCG compliant. We try to get an extinguisher that comes with a secure mounting bracket that’s clearly marked as USCG compliant.

g) Nozzle vs. Hose

Nozzle extinguishers are easier to hold and fight fires in our personal opinion. There are just less parts to deal with which we like. For those who have a hose-attached extinguisher, they’ve got to hold the handle, extinguisher and the hose which can just be a pain. But due to regulations, 2.5 Lbs extinguishers don’t have hoses (which are tiny) while more powerful 5 Lbs and 10 Lbs extinguishers come with hoses. So there’s a trade-off here.

h) Rechargeable

Rechargeable extinguishers can get substance re-added they’ve been discharged, so they can be used again and again. Disposable extinguishers need to be tossed out once used.

We always get rechargeable extinguishers. They just seem to be higher quality. Plus, if our extinguisher loses charge, we can just go get it topped up rather than being wasteful and throwing it away and buying a new one. Local fire departments can often provide information on a local spot where you can recharge your extinguisher.

i) Extinguishing Substance

Most fire extinguishers on this list use a dry chemical monoammonium phosphate. This is the most common extinguishing material in fire extinguishers today and is the standard in ABC fire extinguishers.

One alternative is a halotron extinguisher.

Halotron extinguishers are much more expensive and a little less effective. But, many people like halotron extinguishers because their substance is non-corrosive. They’re popular for people with sports cars who don’t want to damage their car. They’re also commonplace in the aircraft industry.

For very expensive yachts consumers might want a halotron extinguisher to help protect your yacht from the corrosive collateral damage that may occur when discharging an extinguisher.

Some halotron extinguishers also meets the 5-B requirement such as this Amerex B386T.

Personally, we just stick with the dry chemical.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember is to get an extinguisher that meets USCG standard. Of course, remember to check the most up to date USCG requirements. For our circumstances, we decided that the Amerex B417T is best for a 5-B standard extinguisher, and the Amerex B456 is best for a 20-B standard extinguisher.

This article has shared our opinions for our circumstances only, and is based on our online research and does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise. Your circumstances or experiences will differ from ours. Make sure you do your own additional research and due diligence and adhere to the rules laid out in our terms and conditions and disclaimer.

Sources

* Note: James is a real person, but we’ve used a pseudonym and stock photo to protect his identity. While we do our best to provide accurate information, including consulting with emergency services professionals like James, we cannot guarantee the currency, validity or suitability of the information on the site for your circumstances. See our terms, conditions and disclaimer for more details.