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Fire Fighting Equipment for Vessels (Boats)

A vessel is the generic term that describes a range of seagoing watercraft such as; ship, boat, tug, yacht, runabout, etc for the transport of people or goods on water. Legislation exists across Australia that provides for fire fighting equipment such as portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets on board vessels.


Across Australia there is an array of legislation that covers marine vessels including specific requirements for fire fighting equipment.

A vessel is the generic term that describes a range of seagoing watercraft such as; ship, tender, boat, ferry, powerboat, tug, yacht, runabout, dinghy, houseboat, trawler, etc for the transport of people or goods on water.

For the purposes of fire safety, a vessel can be divided into three categories;

  • Commercial Vessels
  • Recreational Vessels
  • Personal Water Craft 

All vessels are covered (in some way) by the requirements of federal and/or state legislation overseen by the relevant State or Territory authority;

Federal Australia Maritime Safety Authority
New South Wales & ACT Centre for Maritime Safety
Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics
Queensland Maritime Safety Queensland
South Australia Maritime Safety SA
Tasmania Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST)
Victoria Maritime Safety Victoria
Western Australia Department of Transport (Marine)

Book your FREE Fire Extinguisher Service

Every week Firewize hosts a free fire extinguisher service clinic. When you arrive for your booking a friendly member of our team will greet you and conduct the service. When we complete the service, we will mark the fire extinguisher service record, completing the service.

General Requirements for Fire Equipment on recreational vessels

For the purpose of this article the term "fire equipment" includes the selection, installation and maintenance of either a portable fire extinguisher or a fire blanket for recreational vessels.

Fire extinguishers are to be readily accessible in suitable and different parts of the boat. They should not be stored in close proximity to fuel or electrics.

New South Wales - Fire Extinguisher Requirements

For boats with electric start, electric engines, battery, gas installation or fuel stoves in enclosed waters (including alpine waters) or open waters, ONE portable fire extinguisher. Note: Larger boats may need additional fire extinguishers.

Queensland - Fire Extinguisher Requirements

All Queensland regulated ships and boats over 5m in length must carry firefighting equipment that can extinguish a fire quickly and effectively, irrespective if the condition of the water is smooth, partially smooth or beyond partially smooth waters.

There is no specific requirement for the quantity, type or capacity of a portable fire extinguisher in Queensland.

South Australia - Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Applicable to all vessels in Protected Waters, Semi-Protected Waters or Unprotected Waters the following selection criteria apply;

Vessel Size, if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities
Number of Fire Extinguishers Required
Volume of Flammable or Combustible Liquids Carried
Min capacity of each required Fire Extinguisher
Vessels < 8m Long Vessels > 8m Long < 115 Litres 115-350 Litres 351-695 Litres >695 Litres
  • ONE fire extinguisher
  • ONE fire bucket
  • TWO fire extinguishers
  • ONE fire bucket
0.9Kg 2.0Kg 4.5Kg 9.0Kg


  1. must comply with AS 1841 in respect of the type of fuel or fuels carried by the vessel;
  2. is maintained in accordance with AS 1851;
  3. must be not less than the minimum approved size for the amount of flammable liquid carried;
  4. having multiple small extinguishers does not satisfy the size requirement - ie if you are required to carry a 2.0 kg extinguisher, you must carry 1 x 2.0 kg fire extinguisher, not 2 x 1.0 kg fire extinguishers. However, if you are carrying the required size fire extinguisher, you may also carry additional smaller fire extinguishers.

Tasmania - Fire Extinguisher Requirements

The minimum number and capacity of fire extinguishers are to be provided in accordance with the following table;

Vessel length Minimum quantity & capacity Minimum equivalent rating
Personal Watercraft One 0.75 kg 5BE
Less than 8 meters One 0.9 kg 5BE
8 to 12 meters Two 0.9 kg 5BE
Greater than 12 meters (a) three 0.9 kg – or
(b) one 0.9 kg and one 1.5 kg
5BE / 10BE
  1. Boats with galleys should carry a fire blanket which should be kept in close proximity, but not behind burners or hot plates.
  2. Only extinguishers marked as complying with AS1841.5 (1992) or AS1846 for dry chemical type are acceptable.

Victoria - Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Depending on the type of vessel and equipment on board, fire protection equipment may include one or more of the following:

Vessel Size
Number of Fire Extinguishers Required Marine Safety Regulations (Vic) 2012, Schedule 3, Table H & Table I
Volume of Flammable or Combustible Liquids Carried
Min capacity of each required Fire Extinguisher
<8 meters 8-12 Meters > 12 Meters < 115 Litres 115-350 Litres 351-695 Litres >695 Litres
1 x Fire Extinguisher 2 x Fire Extinguishers 3 x Fire Extinguishers 0.9kg 2.0Kg 4.5Kg 9.0Kg

Western Australia - Fire Extinguisher Requirements

If your vessel is fitted with an inboard engine (personal water craft are exempt) or with cooking, heating or cooling systems that use flames, you must carry at least ONE approved fire extinguisher.https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/imarine/fire-extinguishers.asp

You make your own choice of extinguisher (provided it is made to Australian Standards) from foam, dry chemical, carbon dioxide or vaporising liquid.

Although the regulations call for only one extinguisher to be carried, your boat might be of a size or complexity to suggest carrying more than one fire extinguisher, perhaps of different types. You may also decide to buy larger than the minimum size.

Bailers are used for vessels under 7 metres in length. Depending on the size of the vessel, a strong bucket with 2 metres of rope attached makes an excellent addition to your gear list. As a safety item, it is useful both for bailing water out and fighting fires.https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/imarine/bailer-or-bilge-pump.asp

Best Fire Extinguisher for Boats

In most circumstances a Dry Chemical Powder Fire Extinguisher is the correct extinguisher for a vessel to comply with the various legislation in Australia.

To make things easier we have prepared the following guide that may be used across Australia for the selection of a portable fire extinguisher for a recreational vessels in the following table;

Volume of Flammable or Combustible Liquids Carried < 115 Litres 115-350 Litres 351-695 Litres >695 Litres
Dry Chemical Powder, AB(E) Fire Extinguisher Capacity 1.0Kg 2.5Kg 4.5Kg 9.0Kg
Less than 8 meters long 1 x Fire extinguisher of the required capacity
8 - 12 meters long 2 x Fire extinguishers of the required capacity
Greater than 12 meters 3 x Fire extinguishers of the required capacity