Gennusa & Piacun

Admiralty / Maritime Law

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When must small boats carry fire extinguishers?

Fire can be very dangerous if it breaks out on a boat on the water. If you are on board, you risk smoke inhalation, fire burns or injury from a fuel explosion, and since you are not on land, it is harder to seek emergency aid from Metairie first responders. This is why state law requires small boats, under certain circumstances, to have a fire extinguisher on hand.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries website explains that state law necessitates boats that are less than twenty-six feet in length to carry one B-1 U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher should one or more of a number of conditions exist. Living spaces are one such issue. If a small boat contains an enclosed living space, a fire extinguisher needs to be available on the vessel.

Many requirements involve the presence of fuel on the boat. Some boats house permanent fuel tanks. Fuel tanks are considered permanent if they cannot be moved in the event of a fire or other emergency situation. Tanks are also considered permanently installed in a boat if they are so heavy that people on board the vessel are not able to move it.

Smaller amounts of fuel or combustible material also necessitate the presence of a fire extinguisher. Some boats maintain flammable substances, such as portable fuel tanks, inside closed stowage compartments. Some boating crews keep small fuel tanks underneath seats. Even if these tanks can be moved, their presence still requires that approved fire extinguishers be kept on board.

There are other circumstances that require Louisiana small boats to carry a fire extinguisher, such as when a boat possesses inboard engines or double bottoms that are not moored to the hull of the vessel or if the bottoms are not fully filled with flotation substances. A failure to do so can risk severe personal injury in the event of a fire and legal repercussions for the owner of the boat.

This article is written to educate readers on maritime law and is not intended as legal advice.

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