Boats & Barges

Coast Guard Issues Final Firefighting Training Rule For Towboats

Mariners working on U.S. rivers may take a modified basic firefighting course when seeking certain credentials, under a new Coast Guard ruling.

The Coast Guard has issued a final rule revising the training requirements for national Merchant Mariner Credential endorsements as master of towing vessels (limited) or mate (pilot) of towing vessels on inland waters (other than the Great Lakes) or Western Rivers routes. Consistent with recommendations from the National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (NMERPAC) and the National Towing Safety Advisory Committee (NTSAC), this rule gives mariners seeking these endorsements the option of taking a modified basic firefighting course that excludes training on equipment not required to be carried on towing vessels operating on inland waters or the Western Rivers.

The modified basic firefighting course is limited to towing vessel endorsements for Western Rivers and inland waters other than the Great Lakes. Mariners seeking towing vessel endorsements for other routes must complete a basic firefighting course.

The Coast Guard is delaying the effective date of this rule until April 1, 2024. This delay allows time for training providers to develop a modified basic firefighting course, and for the Coast Guard to evaluate and approve the course. Training providers wishing to obtain approval for a modified basic firefighting course may submit their course for approval at any time before the effective date of this final rule.

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The Final Rule is available on the in the October 3, 2023, Federal Register. Information on course approvals can be found on the NMC Website or by contacting the National Maritime Center at (888) 427-5662 or