Backfire Flame Arrestor

Question: In my inspections I am beginning to come across new power boats and re-powered boats that have inboard multi-port or direct fuel injected gas engines. What are the rules for flame arresters for these types of engines. These engines are pretty well shrouded and if they are required to have a flame arrestor it is very difficult to locate.

Answer: All gasoline powered boats are required to have a backfire flame arrestor. VE's should try to check these boats for tight and clean arrestors but should not attempt to disassemble anything to do so.

All gasoline powered boats are required to have a backfire flame arrestor. VE's should try to check these boats for tight and clean arrestors but should not attempt to disassemble anything to do so.

The VE manual would indicate that if access to the backfire flame arrestor requires disassembly, the VE should not attempt to disassemble or require the owner/operator to disassemble, but advise the boater to clean the arrester on a regular basis with soap and water, or a commercial cleaner made for that purpose.

Visual Distress Signals for Paddle Craft?

Question: In your Paddle Craft Workshop PowerPoint it states that canoes & kayaks are required to have VDS on board when on federally control waters which requires them. But on page 16 of the VE manual it states that a manually propelled boat is an exception to the VDS requirement. Which is correct?

Answer: The Paddle Craft Workshop PowerPoint is current, the VE manual was created back in 2000 and is outdated. When the new manual is completed and printed, the changes will be included.

USPS Member Joined USCGAUX and Wants to Perform VSCs

Question: I have a past US Power Squadrons member who has now joined the Auxiliary and wants to continue performing VSCs What are the protocols to allow this?

Answer:He or she would need to study the materials on our training page and take the VE exam at as it is not the same as the exam as the US Power Squadrons uses. Then perform the five VSCs under one of our certified VEs and then follow the requirement in your District to have him or her certified. The big difference is the Facilities Inspections requirements which you might want to point out.

Re-certification of a Vessel Examiner

Question: I am the VSE chair for my Squadron. What do I have to do to get 2 Examiners reinstated to "qualified" status?

Answer: In the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the VE must perform two VSCs under supervision a Certified VE to regain certification. The Certified VE receives credit for the two VEs for the recertification.

The National Safety Chair of the U.S. Power Squadrons confirmed that they follow the same rules.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Authority

Question: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District, wants the below rules to apply to all boaters using Lake Mendocino, located in, Ukiah, California, to qualify to receive a VSC decal from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I question their authority regarding this matter and ask for an opinion and direction from you.

All boats must have a type IV.
All boats must have a fire extinguisher.
All boats must have rope, backup propulsion device (paddle, wake board or ski).

Answer: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been involved in regulating certain activities in the nation´s waters since 1899. Until 1968, the primary interest of the Corps regulatory Program was navigation. As a result of several new laws and judicial decisions, the program evolved from one that focused on navigation to one that considers an array of public interest factors.

The bottom line is that the Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over all waters of the United States and can add additional "local" requirements above the Federal Regulations. Item 14 on the 7012 is "State and/or Local Requirements" which must be followed to issue the VSC Decal. If the Local District sets a requirement, then you must follow that law.

Fixed FE-241 and HFC-227 ae Fire Suppression Systems

Question: We are beginning to see fixed FE-241 and HFC-227 ae fire suppression systems on larger recreational vessels. I have seen two (2) in the past 14 days. Accordingly, I have inspected the vessels as I were looking at the older HALON systems, ie, all must be weighed and tagged within the past twelve months to be counted. Our manual is silent on the subject. Am I correct?

Answer: First it is 6 months and not 12 months to be current.

46 C.F.R. Subpart 25.30—Fire Extinguishing Equipment

(1) When the date on the inspection record tag on the extinguishers shows that 6 months have elapsed since last weight check ashore, then such extinguisher is no longer accepted as meeting required maintenance conditions until reweighed ashore and found to be in a serviceable condition and within required weight conditions.

The following is from a manufacturers article on these replacements for Halon systems: Cylinders should be securely mounted, protected from weather, mechanical damage and be accessible for inspection and removal. Each system should be inspected and components tested at least once a year by a professional service company. The operator should check the gauge every time they go into the engine compartment or at least once a month. A visual inspection should also be made to verify the wiring is intact at the bottle and that the nozzle is not damaged.

So in addition to checking the above, there should be a signed tag of inspection from a professional service company dated and current within 6 months.

How to Get Listed as a VE?

Question: I have a person that has taken the VE course and test on line and passed, he has done 5-assisted VSC how does he get listed as a VE?

Answer: Once the successful exam passing and the 5 VEs are reported through the IS system, it may be automatic. Check with your local District as some require the Flotilla Commander send a letter to DIRAUX recommending that the member be certified as a VE and then DIRAUX makes final determination and the member is then certified.

Rental Boat VSCs

Question: Is there a specific authorization for VE's to examine rental vessels and are there any additional requirements?

Answer: National V Department's Newsletter For Safety's Sake in Volume II - 2006.

Rental Boat Vessel Safety Checks

Boat liveries offer a variety of vessels to examine and opportunities to promote the Recreational Boating Safety message. Of particular interest are the liveries offering small un-powered and powered boats, a category where there are a disproportionate number of accidents and fatalities. Having VSC decals on these boats furthers awareness of the Recreational Boating Safety program and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

VSCs on rowboats, canoes, kayaks and small sailboats are not demanding. Typically only life jackets, anchors, and whistles are supplied for boats under 16 feet. Where boats are rented for daytime use only, lights are not usually required, although a flashlight is recommended gear for every boater. Powered boats usually require registration and numbering. As life jackets are not usually kept on the rental boats, but issued from storage at rental, examiners must assure that the life jackets are in acceptable condition, in sufficient quantity for the number of boats, and with a mix of sizes. Apprise the owner of the Boat U.S. Foundation's life jacket loaner program that makes children's life jackets available for the day or weekend to families who have a temporary need for one. Over 350 waterfront businesses are participating in this important program. See

Time can be saved and the VSCs expedited by visiting the livery before conducting the VSCs and obtaining the information for Form 7012. Filling in the required information at your desk at home saves a lot of time. Then only the checklist need be filled in at the dock.

Be sure that the rental boats meet Federal, State and Local requirements before awarding the decal.

Then in Volume IV - 2006 the following follow-up was published:

Rental Boat VSC

The previous issue of For Safety’s Sake included an article on the value of doing Vessel Safety Check on Rental Boats. One of the key points of this encounter is to educate the owner/manager of the rental establishment. Beyond ensuring that their vessel's safety equipment is up to standards, it is a good time to discuss with them how and why they should be educating their customers on the use of the safety equipment, and safe boating best practices before they hand over the keys. The vast majority of these vessels fall into the "high focus" area that we want to concentrate, and would be the renters who are most likely unfamiliar with the area and are novice boaters. Please remember that education is the operative word when it comes to prevention!

Note from Paul Mayer, DVC-V: As being in on the ground floor of the new program at the time, it is important that you only award decals for the number of boats with sufficient items to pass the VSC. If they have 10 boats but PFDs for 5, only 5 would be awarded the decal.

Lectra San MSD (Marine Sanitation Device)

Question: Does a vessel with an Lectrasan need to have the overboard Y valve closed or can it discharge treated material directly overboard?

Answer: The Lectra San Type I Marine Sanitation Device (MSD) is an innovative USCG-approved secondary sewage treatment system that allows a user to treat and discharge head waste in all but specified "zero discharge zones".

Many boaters find that they must regularly dose the holding tank with harsh chemicals to dissipate offensive odors, and often, due to lack of or inoperative pump-out stations, they end up discharging the harmful contents directly overboard.

Onboard treatment via a Type I MSD means that, in most bays and coastal areas, waste does not have to be retained in a holding tank. The overboard disposal of treated effluent has proven to be a realistic alternative for many boaters interested in fewer visits to pump-out stations. With this technology you can be environmentally responsible and compliant with all but "zero discharge zone" regulations, and with a twist of the Y-valve, the holding tank can be put back into use making the vessel fully compliant.

Federal and Local regulations determine whether treated sewage can be pumped overboard or into holding tank. Ensure holding tank is empty, prior to operating in restricted pumping areas.

So the answer is they still need a method of prohibiting accidental discharge.

Parachute Flares

Question: What is the requirement for parachute flares on a vessel?

Answer: On the parachute VDS, there are no special considerations. As the VSC manual states:

Devices may be either self-contained or pistol launched, and either meteor or parachute assisted type. Some signals may require use in combination with a suitable launching device.

Then further down in the manual all VDSs are checks as follows:

Verify that the boat has on board suitable devices in the number and type required for day and night use. Different combinations are acceptable. The type of device determines the number required.

When doing a VSC in a state that prohibits percussion type distress signals, advise the owner of possible restrictions and alternative devices.

Ensure that pyrotechnic devices are properly sealed with all wrappings intact to prevent moisture damage.

Manufacture and/or expiration dates must be legible to meet decal requirements.

At no time should a VDS be test fired as part of the examination.