Question: When checking a fire extinguisher is there an age of manufacture requirement?
Answer: Current guidance from the USCG Office of Boating Safety directs that the following items should be included in the annual maintenance of non-rechargeable portable extinguishers:
1. Check that the pressure gauge or pressure indicator is in the operable range.
2. Verify there is no physical damage to the extinguisher or discharge hose (if provided).
3. Check for missing or broken safety seals or tamper indicators.
4. Examine the extinguisher for obvious signs of corrosion, leakage or clogged discharge nozzle.
If any deficiencies are noted, the non-rechargeable extinguisher should be replaced.
In addition, non-rechargeable fire extinguishers now come with a warning on the label that the fire extinguisher should be removed from service 12 years from the manufacture date which is marked on the extinguisher (date stamped on the bottom of the cylinder). Check the label and advise the boater that the manufacturers instructions should be followed if more than 12 years has elapsed. However, until the federal regulations are revised, this should be treated as a recommendation and not result in a failure during a VSC.