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September 23, 2003

commission clarifies fire extinguisher requirements

 

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has taken action to clarify existing regulations on the types of watercraft required to carry approved fire extinguishers on board.  The amended regulation stops short of requiring all motorboats to carry extinguishers. Instead it closely follows federal regulations on fire extinguishers for motorboats and clarifies specific instances where motorboats are required to have such devices.

The new regulation was adopted during the PFBC's fall quarterly meeting September 21-22 in Harrisburg.

PFBC regulations have long required a fire extinguisher in all gasoline-powered boats that have the probability for entrapping gasoline vapors in closed compartments.  However, the regulation raised questions about its applicability in particular situations.  Looking to address this grey area, the Commission sought public comment on an amendment to require fire extinguishers on all boats with internal combustion motors.

"The proposed broad requirement for extinguishers on all gas-powered motorboats had the advantage of setting forth a clear, unambiguous line for requiring fire extinguishers. However, the proposal also had the disadvantage of requiring fire extinguishers on boats where they may not be necessary from a safety viewpoint," said Deputy Executive Director Dennis T. Guise.  "The Commissioners decided they did not want to place a undue burden on many boaters."

After reviewing public comment and exploring other regulatory alternatives, the Commission concluded such a broad provision was unnecessarily restrictive.

The new regulation reads:

§97.2.  Fire extinguishers.

(a)  All motorboats shall carry at least the minimum number of Coast Guard approved hand portable fire extinguishers required for their class as specified in Appendix A, except that motorboats less than 26 feet in length, propelled by outboard motors and not carrying passengers for hire, need not carry fire extinguishers if the construction of such motorboats will not permit the entrapment of explosive or flammable gases or vapors. Fire extinguishers shall be carried on motorboats that meet one or more of the following conditions. The motorboats have:

 

(1)    closed compartments under thwarts and seats where portable fuel tanks may be stored;

(2) double bottoms not sealed to the hulls or which are not completely filled with flotation material;

(3) closed living spaces;

(4) closed stowage compartments in which combustible or flammable materials are stowed;

(5) permanently installed fuel tanks; or

(6) are carrying passengers for hire.

 

The following conditions do not, in and of themselves, require that fire extinguishers be carried:  (1) bait wells, (2) glove compartments, (3) buoyant flotation material, (4) open slatted flooring, and (5) ice chests

 

In other action, the Commission tabled consideration of a proposal to solicit public comment on raising the minimum age of operation for personal watercraft (such as jet skisŪ and the like) from 12 to 16.  Under current regulations, all operators of personal watercraft must possess a boating safety education certificate. 

The Commission also:

·         removed miscellaneous special trout fishing regulations for Duck Harbor Pond, Wayne County.  Duck Harbor Pond will now be considered approved trout waters open to year-round fishing. Trout may be harvested during the regular and extended trout seasons in accordance with statewide regulations.

·         designated Raccoon State Park Upper Pond, Beaver County, as a no-kill zone.

·         adopted a 2 fish creel and 28-inch minimum length limit for striped bass from the Delaware Rive taken during the harvest season.

·         approved minor technical amendments to an administrative regulation on the release of documents and records and a regulation pertaining to permits to draw off impounded waters.

·         deferred a final vote on the banning of a practice known as "teak surfing."

·         proposed regulations that would allow an angler while ice fishing to fish with a maximum of five fishing devices that may consist of hand lines, tip ups or fishing rods or any combination thereof.

·         proposed creating regulations needed for the potential future issuance of online boat registration renewals.

·         moved to seek public comment on limiting boats to slow, minimum height swell speed in the main channel of the Lehigh River, Northampton County in an areas 150 feet upstream and 150 feet downstream from the Route 33 access ramp.

·         proposed a clarification to the regulations outlining the definition of persons with disabilities at fishing at Lake Scranton, Lackawanna County.

·         moved to seek public comment on a proposed change to filleting rules for officially licensed fish cleaning stations.

·         established the dates for the 2004 Commission meetings as January 26-27, April 19-20, July 26-27, and October 4-5.

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