Do I need a fire extinguisher on my boat?

At Jim’s Fire Safety, we’ve been answering all of the most popular fire extinguisher questions. This week we are covering boats, and what kind of safety equipment you should have onboard. 

We’re experts in safety, and offer fire extinguisher servicing to people across New Zealand. So please don’t hesitate to send us through any of your other questions. We’d love to hear from you. 

What safety equipment is required on a boat? 

There are different rules for commercial and recreational boating. 

If you are using your boat commercially, you need to follow maritime protection rules. 

Commercial Boating Rules 

The rules that apply to your commercial vessel can change based on the size and function of your boat. You can find a comprehensive guide to your safety requirements on the Maritime New Zealand website. 

Take a look at these maritime and marine protection rules and if you have any questions get in touch via email at to clarify your requirements. 

They also have a fantastic list of approved safety equipment, including a list of approved fire extinguishers. The approved lifesaving appliances include the following items: 

  • Inflatable life jackets
  • Light and smoke signals
  • Emergency water and food rations 
  • Life rafts
  • Distress flares 
  • Immersion suits 
  • First aid kits 
  • EPIRBs 
  • Lifebuoys

For a full list of the approved life saving devices, take a look at the website. 

Do I need a fire extinguisher on my boat? According to local regulations, any vessel 6m or less in length must be fitted with a fire extinguisher. If your boat is greater in size, you will need more fire extinguishers. 

According to Maritime Rules Part 42B (Safety Equipment – Fire Appliance Performance Standards), a portable fire extinguisher must be kept fully charged at all times. Furthermore, the rules state that: 

“A portable fire extinguisher must be— 

    1. tested and maintained by a competent person in accordance with the five year schedule of New Zealand standard 4503:2005 Hand Operated Fire-Fighting Equipment; and 
    2. inspected at a frequency specified in the maintenance plan by a person designated by the owner, operator, or master of the ship.” 

At Jim’s Fire Safety, we test and inspect extinguishers for businesses all around New Zealand. We also supply and install equipment, so if you need a new extinguisher, please get in touch. After we have completed all inspections you will receive a test report that meets the Maritime Rules and their documentation requirements.  

Recreational Requirements 

Do I need a fire extinguisher on my boat if I’m just using it for fun? Yes. Recreational craft are just as likely to have an incident as commercial craft. Your cargo is precious and you need to protect your friends and family when they are on board. 

If you’re using your boat for fun, you should still consider safety first. Always have the following items on board your boat: 

  • Life jackets 
  • Fire extinguishers 
  • Means of communication 
  • EPIRB (safety beacon) 
  • First aid kit and torch 
  • Compass and chart 
  • Backup fuel 
  • Oars 

You should regularly check your boat safety equipment to make sure it works when you need it. This means testing out your lifejackets, checking expiry dates on flares, having your fire extinguishers serviced, and testing the batteries on your electronic safety equipment. 

Contact Jim’s Fire Safety Today 

Contact us now to talk about your fire extinguisher requirements. 

Call us or fill in the online form for a free quote.