Coast Guard seeks to change PFD type codes

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The Coast Guard issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on Wednesday to remove references to type codes in regulations on the carriage and labeling of the personal flotation devices it approves.

PFD type codes are unique to Coast Guard approval and are not well understood by the general public, the agency said. The current PFD type code classification system would be redesigned to focus on performance criteria rather than construction standards.

A new, easy-to-understand label concept is intended to help professional mariners and recreational boaters select the best device for their intended use and route.

Removal of the current PFD type codes from carriage and labeling requirements would assist future incorporation by reference of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that will more effectively convey safety information without the use of type codes and is a step toward harmonizing Coast Guard regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and other countries.

“Life jackets that are currently Coast Guard-approved and serviceable are still perfectly safe to use and are not made obsolete by the proposed standards. This rule simply streamlines the use of PFD type codes to pave the way for future alignment with one international standard,” Brandi Baldwin, P.E., Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division, Office of Design and Engineering Standards at Coast Guard headquarters, said in a statement.

The notice of proposed rulemaking and related materials can be seen at, Docket No. USCG-2013-0263.


4 comments on “Coast Guard seeks to change PFD type codes


    Make it simple- how about labels that describe the article?
    Simply label them as NEARSHORE, OFFSHORE, WATERSPORTS, THROWABLE, HYBRIDS AND INFLATABLES (The hybrids and inflatables would have small text description for what they can be used to replace, ie Nearshore)ETC.
    The easier we make if for the end user the safer we potentialy become instead of trying to remember what Type I, II etc is used for.
    When I used to give VSC examinations, I tried to get away from the types for PFD’s and Fire Extnguishers, but focused on when, where and how the device could be used.

  2. Rick Short

    Simpler, straight forward language is always beneficial to improved understanding. This becomes increasingly important when communicating with diverse cultures with different languages. In fact, the term “PFD” should be eliminated, and “life jacket” should always be used instead. The recreational boater should be given every opportunity to understand how best to be safe on the water, without confusion.

  3. Gibeon Bradbury

    I personally don’t wish to have another change . if it works don’t fix itv. they wont wear lifejackets or PFD’s because it is macho and uncomfortable . Get only the right colors and enforce wearing them first . I cannot even get them to use them even for young people or not have a fight with adults when the are required to wear them as BSA Scouts . get an enforcement program with mandatory testing ( of the wearer and in pool time where they have to put on in the water and tie a line as we do in Masters training . I did it both for Canada as well as the ASA and US Sailing . I have also been over the side in an emergency . just yesterday I was asking an adult to please wear them . watch all the videos and you will see them missing . even divers that should know more about the needs try to use their BC as a flotation device . rating does not matter . having them on does . its like seatbelts , until mandatory and checked . people will skate .

  4. Jim Fogle

    The Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements For Recreational Boats already refers to them as Life Jackets and has for several years. In our USCG Auxiliary Safe Boating Programs we refer to them as Life Jackets and teach the difference between Type I – V. Until licenses are mandated for all boaters and the on-line quickie tests eliminated there will always be misunderstandings and ignorance.

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