Safe Boating Course

CHAPTER 2: Boating Equipment


Fires are classed depending on their fuel source: solid, liquid or electrical. Each fire burns differently and requires a specific type of extinguisher. That’s why every fire extinguisher is marked with a letter, like A, B or C. The letter indicates both the class of fire extinguisher and the class of fire it is designed to put out.


Class A fire

CLASS A: Combustible solids 

Class B fire

CLASS B: Flammable liquids 

Class C fire

CLASS C: Electrical fires

Class A fires have a solid combustible fuel source like wood or paper. You can use water, or a Class A fire extinguisher, to put out this type of fire.

Class B fires, on the other hand, have a flammable liquid fuel source, like gasoline. Do not use water to put out a Class B fire as it will just spread the fire. Instead, use a Class B fire extinguisher.

Finally, a Class C fire is an electrical fire. Like a Class B fire, never use water on a Class C fire. Use a Class C fire extinguisher.

Because gasoline fires are the most common type of boat fire, marine-rated Class B fire extinguishers are the class required on most boats. The number after the B, for example a B1 or B2 extinguisher, indicates the capacity of the extinguisher.

It’s important to note that you can also get fire extinguishers that put out multiple types of fires. A Class ABC fire extinguisher, which can handle all fires, is therefore the most recommended class of extinguisher.

There are different types of fire extinguishers, with the most common being a dry chemical extinguisher.