The Coast Guard just announced that it will issue a new set of interim rules covering small passenger vessels as a result of its investigation of the fire that sank that dive boat Conception off the coast of Southern California on Sept. 2, 2019, killing 33 passengers and one crew member.
The interim rules are the Coast Guard’s first step toward implementing requirements required by statute. They address additional fire requirements, including fire detection and suppression systems, escape avenues, exit drills, firefighting training, watchman monitoring devices, and the handling of flammable devices, particularly rechargeable batteries.
The rules follow many of the recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board after its investigation of the tragedy. The NTSB said the probable cause of the fire was the failure of the boat’s owner and operator to properly oversee the vessel and its crew, including requirements to maintain a roving safety patrol. As a result, the NTSB said, the fire was able to grow near the aft salon on the main deck.
It said the passengers were trapped in the boat’s bunkroom on a lower deck because the emergency escape routes both lead to a compartment that was engulfed in fire.
The NTSB report also found that many passengers had plugged in cameras and other electronic devices to recharge them overnight, and their flammable batteries may have contributed to the fire.
“The Coast Guard’s interim rules addressing the recommendations of the NTSB issued following its investigation of the deadly Labor Day 2019 fire aboard the Conception are a welcome step towards improving the safety of passengers and crew on small passenger vessels,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. Read more: