As of this year, if any disposable (nonrechargeable) fire extinguisher has a date of manufacture stamped on the bottle older than 12 years, the extinguisher is now considered “expired,”. It needs to be removed from service, and replaced.

UL Classifications

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 can continue to carry dated or undated B-I or B-II disposable extinguishers. When 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.