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Today, the Coast Guard published a final rule on the Harmonization of Standards for Fire Protection, Detection and Extinguishing Equipment. This rule is the fifth installment of the Coast Guard’s effort to update its regulations to reflect advances in technology and to harmonize its regulations with national and international consensus standards. These changes should afford greater safety while giving the marine industry clearer direction, more flexibility, and more cost-effective fire protection. Highlights of this latest round of harmonization include:
- Consolidates and updates the fire detection and alarm system requirements in 46 CFR subchapter H (passenger vessels). These changes also affect 46 CFR subchapters C, I, K, and T vessels where the regulations refer to subchapter H for fire detection and alarm system requirements.
- Updated Coast Guard regulations for the design and installation of fire detection and alarm systems to reflect advances in digital technology.
- The option to obtain Coast Guard approval of discrete detection and alarm system components as an alternative to approval of entire alarm and detection systems.
- The option of installing alarm and detection systems and structural fire protection on US flag vessels under SOLAS and related international codes as an alternative to using the Coast Guard’s own regulations.
- Replacing the Coast Guard’s own weight-based rating system for portable fire extinguishers with the more widely used UL fire extinguisher rating system.
- The adoption of fire extinguisher maintenance and inspection procedures set forth in the consensus NFPA 10 “Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers.” Vessel crewmembers can continue to perform monthly inspections; however, a certified person is required to conduct annual maintenance.
- Fire hose nozzles can now meet ASTM F1546 or NFPA 1964-2008 and must be brass or bronze.
- Codifies an alternative path to Coast Guard approval through an established Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) to which the U.S. is a party. The MRA allows for Coast Guard approvals of certain fire protection equipment and materials issued by other nations that are members of the European Community (EC) and the European Economic Area (EEA) European Free Trade Association (EFTA). This change will reduce manufacturer costs and burdens associated with duplicative testing and evaluation for multiple national approvals.
The Coast Guard believes that the US marine industry will benefit from these new regulations. Of note is that these new regulations afford generous transitional and “grandfather” clauses to ease their adoption. The Coast Guard will follow these new regulations with various advice and policy documents to further ease the transition.
Please contact the Coast Guard’s Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division (CG-ENG-4) with any questions on this material at email@example.com.
The entirety of the final rule encompassing a host of important fire protection-related changes to both 33 and 46 CFR can be found here.
This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.