A U.S. Coast Guard-approved marine-type fire extinguisher should be kept on your boat in an easily accessible location. Remember that a PWC (jet-ski or waverunner) is a boat and, in most situations, must be equipped with an authorized fire extinguisher.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not a fire extinguisher is required on your vessel and to help you select the right type of extinguisher for your needs. While many small fires can be put out with water, there are some incidents such as collisions with other boats, explosions, and fires on vessels at sea or in remote areas where only an inert gas such as CO2 will put out the blaze.
Your first line of defense against fire is water. Even though water may not be able to reach all parts of the vessel immediately, it can be used to put out smaller fires before they get out of control. If you choose to use water to fight a fire, be sure to wear protective clothing and equipment. Wearing proper eye protection, such as goggles or a helmet, will help prevent injuries caused by flying debris. A face shield also will help protect you from burns caused by splashing fuel or electrical components.
After putting out any small fires, contact your captain or crew member if you are unable to do so yourself.
Every vessel shall have at least one extinguisher capable of extinguishing a class A, B, or C fire (ABC extinguisher). All extinguishers used on boats must be Coast Guard-approved and qualified for marine usage, according to the Coast Guard. An ABC fire extinguisher can provide all the benefit you would get from using a water-based extinguisher.
Boat fires are different than other types of fires because they tend to burn hotter and faster. With this in mind, it is important to choose an appropriate fire extinguisher for your boat. Make sure that it has an AMO certification. This means that the manufacturer has tested its product to make sure that it functions properly when exposed to both gas and liquid fuels as well as solid fuel such as wood.
If you are not sure what type of fire extinguisher to buy, then an ABC unit will serve you well on most boats. These can be found anywhere fire extinguishers are sold and usually cost less than $100. They come in two main sizes: small and large. The only difference between the two is the amount of fluid that can be placed in them. Other than that, they work exactly the same way.
An ABC unit will be able to put out a majority of common boat fires including those caused by gasoline, diesel, and alcohol.
Your personal watercraft must include a marine-rated fire extinguisher and emergency signaling gear. All PWCs must be registered in accordance with state legislation and show a registration number. The Coast Guard can fine you if your PWC isn't registered.
The use of alcohol, gasoline, or other fuels as an engine fuel is prohibited. This includes modified engines that run on alcohol or other fuels besides gasoline. Alcohol can cause serious burns if it comes into contact with skin or any other surface of the body. Engines can explode if they reach temperatures above 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This can happen if you take off too quickly or if you don't shut off your motor after surfing and come back later to find it running.
PWCs are not street vehicles and should be operated only in safe recreational areas. They are very dangerous if operated illegally or negligently. The Coast Guard has limited authority to issue tickets for violations of federal law relating to recreational boats. However, many states have their own marine laws that may apply when you're on their waters. You should know what these laws are before you go out riding so you don't get caught by surprise.
The Small Vessel Regulations may require pleasure vessels to carry a 5B:C or a 10B:C fire extinguisher, depending on the kind and length of the boat and the equipment on board. Unless everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or PFD, PWCs must carry one 5B:C fire extinguisher on board. The other can be kept on land for emergency use.
A boat is considered to be equipped with a motor if it has a combustion engine, such as a outboard motor or inboard/outboard motor. If your boat is not equipped with a motor, it is required by law to carry a hand-operated fire extinguisher. This rule applies even if you have someone aboard who knows how to operate the engine; they must still carry the hand-operated fire extinguisher.
There are three types of fires that may occur on a boat: surface fires, electrical fires, and mechanical-systems failures. It is important to know the proper way to fight each type of fire. Fighting surface fires involves putting out hot spots and smoldering materials with water. Electrical fires should be extinguished by closing off the circuit with an electric knife or sandpaper. Mechanical-systems failures include leaks and breaks in hoses that supply water to appliances such as sinks, toilets, and dishwashers. These problems must be reported to the Coast Guard immediately after they occur so that they can be fixed before they cause more damage.