Fire extinguishers are mandatory equipment on-board a narrowboat. The number and type required form part of the Boat Safety Scheme.

Fire Extinguishers… What Do You Need To Know?

Fire extinguishers are mandatory equipment on a narrowboat

There are regulations regarding the positioning and rating of extinguishers on narrow boats. Firstly they are mandatory.

In order to help you satisfy the minimum requirements of the Boat Safety Scheme , at the bottom of the page we have reproduced the table below from current (winter 2014) BSS regulations. Fire extinguishers are rated on their capability to put out a fire. Fires are categorised as A, B or C, with a number that relates to the capacity of the extinguisher. The minimum size allowed under BSS is 5A/34B (BSS 2014).

The extinguishers must be readily accessible on your narrowboat. Your BSS examiner will check for locations near to entry and exit points, close to the engine bay and in the galley. In the galley the examiner will fail an extinguisher location if you have to lean over a cooking appliance to reach it.

He or she will also look for appropriate labelling and check the units for condition. If they are in any way damaged or have missing components, they will be deemed to be non-compliant. Ensure the extinguisher has an accreditation mark; the easiest one to spot is the BSI symbol (kitemark), but there are others that are accepted by the BSS.

Expiry dates and service indicators will be checked. If the stamped expiry dates had been exceeded your examiner will expect to see documentary evidence from an approved service company for recent service, or he will deem the appliance non-compliant.

If the extinguisher is not in open view then their location must be clearly marked with an appropriate marked label.

Narrow Boats which do not have either fuel burning appliances or an engine can reduce the number of extinguishes by one, and the combined rating to 5A/34B.

The BSS take fire protection extremely seriously, so should you.

Additional Specification

Narrow boat builders will generally build your boat to the minimum specification required by the Boat Safety Scheme, however a few simply upgrades can provide you with further protection and reassurance.

The standard 1kg powder extinguishers usually fitted in a narrowboat can easily be upgraded  to larger 2kg, 4kg or 6kg ones (maybe opt for two 2kg ones and one larger 4kg/6kg extinguisher).  A standard 1 kg powder extinguisher will only work for 6-8 seconds. Powder ones can also be replaced with AFFF foam one (2-6 litres) which will make far less mess in an enclosed space and control a fire better by helping to prevent re-ignition, especially on liquid fuel fires.  If you do opt for foam filled extinguishes and leave you narrow boat in the winter, you will need to ensure they are frost protected as they use a water based solution.

Boat Length Min. Number of Extinguishers Min. Fire Rating of Each Extinguisher Min. Combined Fire Rating of Extinguishers
up to 7m (up to 23ft) 2 5A/34B 10A/68B
7m – 11m (23 -36ft) 2 5A/34B 13A/89B
Over 11m (36ft plus) 3 5A/34B 21A/114B

Fire Extinguishers

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