Elf, some extinguisher companies are honest but frankly, you're well above the competency level needed to do this yourself. Big scam in every city is that someone will come into every business on the blcok and say "I'm from the extinguisher company", pick up the ones that are out of date or underpressure, take 'em away, and bring back a huge bill after they service
them. With NO pre-existing relationship and often 2x-4x the price
someone else would have given.
The USCG wants to see a "USCG" approval on the extinguishers, usually white instead of red, go figure. Mainly a USCG approved extinguisher is supposed to be able to remain fixed in place until you release it--even if the boat is turning cartwheels at the time.
If the pressure gauge or the test button says "GOOD" that's about all you need to know. If the extinguisher uses dry powder, you also want to pick it up and tap/shake it a few times, to make sure the powder hasn't caked up. And if you have a postal scale around, you also WEIGH them once a year, which will tell you if the gas charge has leaked out.
Many extinguishers last 25 years with zero maintenance
, the ones that are going to leak usually do so well before. And a bad refill can leak worse than ever.
Got your USG approved extinguishers on the boat? Good, ask the USCG Auxiliary for a free courtesy inspection--there's no penalty for failing it, they'll tell you what you need and what they want.
Then go out and buy 2-4 more extinguishers from Home Depot that are not marine
approved but are perfectly good and dirt cheap
. CO2, foam and water
, or dry chemical as you please. There are differences in how they all work, and your local Fire Department may have demonstrations to show you how to use them. If not--take the oldest extinguisher to the fired department, ask them to demostrate it with you, then go recharge it. (Sometimes buying
a disposable for the purpose is actually cheaper.)
Fire extinguishers usually scare the **it out of the new user, they are NOISY and they make a huge mess. The common "dry powder" kind blast yellow powder all over the place, it gets into everything, and you've got days worth of cleanup. It can make the investment in a Co2 or Halon bottle seem very worthwhile.<G> Especially for one to keep by the engine
compartment--where I'd want to put out a fire without the damned powder mess all over.