Boat Inspections

In May one of our party was stopped by rangers and were given an on water inspection. 1) Expired fire extinguisher although fully charged and 2) throw-able life preserver not within reach.
He was told to get off the lake.
He did purchase a new fire extinguisher for $100 at the marina. ( normally $19.95 ).
After this I was reading and article on this very subject. I seems the ACLU is joining a suit against suspicionless searches on boats. ( see article )


Well-Known Member
Over Memorial Day weekend, officers were pulling over many boats as they were about to enter APM from the southern end of the marina for 'safety inspections.' The officers boat would hide near the shore until the subject boats came off plane to enter the marina, then flashing lights on, and inspections ensued. I did see several arrests from afar. Could you imagine if officers could just pull vehicles over for random inspections without being suspect of anything? But per the attached article, I guess many states have approved this practice for watercraft and it has even been tested through the legal system.

Per Dale's note, I was not aware that 'standard' fire extinguishers expired - I always confirm they are still charged and thought that was OK on smaller non-commercial watercraft. I've looked online at the statute for Utah and it does not get into any deeper detail than having an operating fire extinguisher. My extinguishers do not have an expiration date on them (except my optional halon system) - I wonder how one confirms an expired extinguisher by date that doesn't exist?

Also per Dale's note, I'd like to know how 'within reach' of a throwable is legally defined - is under a seat I'm sitting on 'within reach'? Where can this level of detail be found so I can ensure I am in compliance? This is a legitimate question I have.

If/when I'm stopped for an inspection, I comply, but I would like to be knowledgeable of the laws to understand if the officers are within their rights and knowledge (which isn't always the case).

p.s. - I replaced all of my fire extinguishers on my big cruiser last year - qty 10 total. I replaced them 'just because' they were old. When I got home, I had all of the grandkids practice using the old extinguishers - most people don't understand exactly how they work and how little use a 5 lb extinguisher is! (it blows for about 5-10 seconds and is done) They had fun using the extinguisher and now understand how they work and how you must be a good aim with it as you don't have much chemical to waste!


Well-Known Member
I can’t get the link to open on my phone. What does “within reach” mean? My throwable is separate from the other life jackets but still under a seat.

Also the same question about the fire extinguisher expiration.

Not a fan of the safety checks and I also don’t understand how they are constitutional.
So from what I read is that NFPA says a rechargable must be recharged every 10 years and disposable must be replaced every 12 years. I got that from Kidde.

I sit on my throwable so I think that counts as within arms reach. I don't have a place you can find the arms reach law and don't know for sure so I won't say I do know.

Hope this helps you a little, maybe someone more knowledgeable can actually give you answers to all your questions.


Well-Known Member
The small 5 lb. {disposable) fire extinguishers are stamped on the bottom of the unit, they have a 12 year lifespan from that date. Older than that, you are out of compliance, per UTAH code R-651-217-7. Larger extinguishers that are (serviceable) need to be inspected every 5 years. Sq


Well-Known Member
Is a manufacturer or industry's recommendation, designed a little for safety, and a lot to sell more product, any correlation to a statuatory legal requirement?
Utah state parks website has a required equipment chart. Vessels 16-26 feet that are outboards are not required to carry a FE, but of course it is recommended. Using their definitions, most boats with an outboard motor wouldn't qualify for that category because of enclosed compartments and gas tanks. So, just because you have an outboard motor doesn't put you in their definition of an outboard:p
Vessels 26-40 feet need two BI class or one BII class. If the FE is disposable, it has a 12 year lifespan, then is past its service life. If rechargeable, it must be serviced every 5 years. Crystal clear?
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Well-Known Member
I had national park Service come in our little cove on memorial weekend sat out 100 yards whooped the siren twice so I waved them over. They didn’t come just sat there making the kids nervous as we have had them come in with there so call assault weapons😲anyway I finally went to the boat and radio them asking if there is something I can help them with on 16 no response and then they left really made me mad 😡that after all of that they had nothing to say.


Well-Known Member
The mandatory boat inspections seem to me to be a lot like the DUI checkpoints, random selection of every vehicle/boat that comes through. I did think the smaller extinguishers had to be a lot newer than 10 years - thought it was like 3-5, but I’m not an expert there. Have been through the check a couple of times at Halls. Have to say the Rangers were professional and pleasant. Probably a combination of luck and preparation that I didn’t have an issue. First few years we had a boat we paid a lot of attention to being sure we were in compliance, later years sometimes took it for granted. Took less than 10 minutes, including the time it took me to tie up and push off- guess it’s not worth getting too excited about, try to think of it as a reminder. Which reminds me, I probably need a whistle for the new boat...
We got stopped years ago at APM a BUI/Safety Check. I didn't have a fire extinguisher on board, our boat has a fixed Halon system which I thought met the requirements. I got the ticket anyways, went and bought an extinguisher and fought the ticket. Once the court date came and I explained the situation to the judge and showed him that I'd gone and bought an extinguisher to be legal. He dismissed the charges but I'm glad I read this post because the extinguisher may be close to 12 years old by now.
Boating is a strict liability activity. Which means, if you are doing it or have the means to do, a boat and water, you can be checked for certain items. Usually safety related.


Active Member
I’ve never understood that either. If I get pulled over on the drive to the lake and an officer wants to search my vehicle I can politely tell him to piss off or get a warrant. While on the lake the constitution suddenly goes out the window.


Active Member
At some point, boating on the lake might be akin to downloading an app on your phone. You are given a form in electronic format at the entrance station with fine print, multiple pages of legalese, outlining TOS/privacy issues/regulations and rights you will relinquish by signing....What are you going to do? Simple, just like the app you really want, you click agree without a second's either that or go back home.

IMHO, what's being allowed today in the area of constitutional law, not only at the enforcement level, has become a slippery slope. The rights of individuals are seemingly being subordinate to the discretional whims and desires of the enforcing agency/LEOs/political interests at hand as they negotiate an area of law that seems to be developing greater shades of gray. Witness the recent surprise search and confiscation of all of Michael Cohen's files, phones and computers from his residences and offices. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of slime to be found re hushmoney for past Trump indiscretions, but without politics involved, is that egregious enough to warrant a full on surprise search? Doubtful, but with this type of search, evidence of attorney/client collusion to cover "criminal" activity can be ascertained thus eliminating attorney/client privilege. Why no unannounced search for private email servers?? or records held at the Clinton law office re Vince Foster?? Etc etc. It's pretty obvious that the Stormy tryst and payoff is a poorly veiled excuse to destroy A/C privilege. How many politicians, corporate execs <insert your most distrusted entity here> could withstand exposure of this nature. Unfortunately, enough slime will surface that everyone will consider fruitful searches constitutional, just like finding someone with a full, but expired extinguisher justified.

<end rant :unsure:>.


Well-Known Member
I reported this when it happened here on the forum but it has been a while. I was pulled over because my boy was sitting on his seatback, feet in the seat. Nice young lady ranger who was new and her partner, a big old boy with the mirrored shades. I recorded the event by putting my iPhone on record and at the windshield ledge. Not sure if they noticed. My extinguisher was within reach and in the green, the bottom was stamped with a date that was exactly ten years. We discussed this and neither one was entirely sure if I should get a ticket for it. I was also sitting on my throwable. THe rangerette was very thorough, and I had every thing she asked for. It was hot and we were into this for about 25 minutes, (registration, spare oar despite my trolling motor, all life jackets inspected etc) when a big wake started making our boats bump. I put my hand on the patrol boat to stop it from hitting mine and the big boy fairly screamed at me to not touch his boat, with his hand on his firearm (yes still bolstered) and leaning forward like he was going to jump on me. I picked up my phone and pointed it at him and told him very surely that if I could not touch his boat that he should ensure my boat did not get damaged from his himself. I thought for a second he was going to come unglued but the rangerette must have realized this and quickly interjected and let us go with a warning. I also was recording to the cloud, and that thought crossed my mind as I figured he might reach across and accidentally drop my phone in the water. I have no problem with being stopped for a safety check, as long as it is done with professionalism and courtesy. That lady ranger exhibited both. She was also wearing a body cam, which I thought was awesome. I treat people with respect, and I expect that respect in return from law enforcement. I don’t think that is unreasonable. I also understand that the rangers probably deal with a great many people who don’t live by the same rules I do and that can make them jaded... that still doesn’t make it right to treat me poorly. That being said, and as I always tell my kids, don’t argue during a stop, don’t retaliate verbally, record it and go visit their boss after the fact. You are not going to win with someone who is empowered, is carrying a gun and is being unreasonable, especially in the middle of the lake. When I got home I did some research and the date should be stamped on the bottom, and good for ten years is the norm. I have noticed some that I could not find a date on. I always have one less then 10 years now.

Interesting. Do you have a source that states boating is a "strict liability activity"? Is that just a Utah thing, or boating in general?
It’s any law that states that you must have something in order to do something. I.E. safety equipment on your boat or fishing license while fishing. Every State has them.
It’s any law that states that you must have something in order to do something. I.E. safety equipment on your boat or fishing license while fishing. Every State has them.
Here’s Utah’s law that allows inspections

73-18a-10 Enforcement -- Inspection of vessels, marinas, and other boating facilities.
Enforcement of this chapter or the rules promulgated under it shall be by law enforcement officers. Any vessel in this state is subject to inspection by the officers for the purpose of determining whether the vessel is equipped in compliance with this chapter. If the vessel is not so equipped, the division may suspend its registration until the proper installation is completed or the marine toilet is sealed
in a manner which prohibits its use. The division may inspect marinas or other waterside public facilities used by vessels for launching, docking, or mooring purposes to determine whether they are adequately equipped for proper handling, storing, or disposal of waste, litter, or human body waste.


Active Member
Founders are rolling over in graves.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Staff member
We got stopped years ago at APM a BUI/Safety Check. I didn't have a fire extinguisher on board, our boat has a fixed Halon system which I thought met the requirements. I got the ticket anyways, went and bought an extinguisher and fought the ticket. Once the court date came and I explained the situation to the judge and showed him that I'd gone and bought an extinguisher to be legal. He dismissed the charges but I'm glad I read this post because the extinguisher may be close to 12 years old by now.
We had a halon system on both boats, but the place here in Havasu that always checked our halon at the start of every season told George we were required to have a fire extinguisher also - they always checked out halon and the extinguisher for us each year. Also in May of each year they have a set Saturday at Windsor where they do safety checks on boats, we had them check out our brand new boats and it was always interesting to see what they would find.