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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-02-007
Details
Synopsis: On the evening of November 17, 2000, the U.S. small passenger vessel Port Imperial Manhattan, with three crewmembers and eight passengers on board, was en route to Weehawken, New Jersey, from the borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, when a fire broke out in the engine room. Crewmembers attempted to extinguish the fire with portable extinguishers, with no success. The fire burned out of control, causing the vessel to lose power and forcing the crew and passengers to abandon the interior spaces. The crew and passengers were rescued by another NY Waterway passenger vessel, and the burning vessel was towed to Manhattan, where the New York City Fire Department extinguished the fire. One passenger was treated for smoke inhalation. No deaths resulted from this accident. The estimated cost to repair the vessel was $1.2 million.
Recommendation: TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Require that all small passenger vessels in commuter and ferry service, regardless of their date of build, be fitted with remotely operated fire pumps.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Reconsidered
Mode: Marine
Location: River, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA01MM008
Accident Reports:
Fire on Board the Small Passenger Vessel Port Imperial Manhattan
Report #: MAR-02-02
Accident Date: 11/17/2000
Issue Date: 7/3/2002
Date Closed: 2/11/2008
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Closed - Reconsidered)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/11/2008
Response: The Safety Board notes that the Coast Guard has not changed its position on this issue and intends to take no action to require that small passenger vessels be fitted with remotely operated fire pumps. The Safety Board continues to believe that in some vessel arrangements, a remotely operated fire pump may have some merit in mitigating an engine room fire. However, from investigations of recent small passenger vessel fires, we have determined that the best way to control and extinguish engineroom and other types of fires is with a fire detection and suppression system. For instance, on March 29, 2007, in the Safety Board’s safety recommendation letter concerning the June 12, 2006, fire on board the U.S. small passenger vessel Massachusetts, near Boston, Massachusetts, Safety Recommendations M-02-6 and -8, were classified Closed Unacceptable Action/Superseded, by Safety Recommendation M-07-1. In so doing, the Safety Board wrote the following: Safety Recommendations M-02-6 and -8 to the Coast Guard regarding fixed fire detection and suppression systems applied only to vessels in commuter and ferry service. Five years have passed since those recommendations were issued, and the Massachusetts accident has focused the Safety Board’s attention on the most important aspect of the original recommendations: the at-risk population. In the Board’s opinion, all small passenger vessels certificated to carry more than 49 passengers, including existing as well as new vessels, should be equipped with fixed fire detection and suppression systems in their enginerooms. Further, vessels that were grandfathered in 1996 are now 10 years older than when they were exempted from the requirements at 46 CFR 118.400 and 181.400 and therefore may be at greater risk of a casualty such as a fire. The Safety Board therefore recommends that the Coast Guard take the following action: Require that all small passenger vessels certificated to carry more than 49 passengers, regardless of date of build or hull material, be fitted with an approved fire detection system and a fixed fire suppression system in their enginerooms. (M-07-1) Accordingly, because the Safety Board is convinced that installation of fire detection and suppression equipment, per Safety Recommendation M-07-1, is a more appropriate method to protect a vessel and its passengers/crew in the event of a fire, Safety Recommendation M-02-7 is classified Closed Reconsidered.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 1/30/2007
Response: 1-30-07: Received via email of 2-13-07. No change since 11/21/03 response: We do not concur with this recommendation. Small passenger vessels engaged in commuter and ferry service that were built, converted or issued an initial certificate of inspection after March 10, 1996, are required to be fitted with remotely operated fire pumps. The requirement does not apply to small passenger vessels built, converted or issued an initial certificate of inspection before March 10, 1996. A review of casualty data on small passenger vessels indicates that those involved in ferry service only accounted for 8.4% of fire casualties between 1992 and 2000. On balance, the substantial cost of retrofitting vessels built before March 10, 1996, does not justify the expected benefits. We intend to take no further action on this recommendation and request that it be closed.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 4/7/2005
Response: The Safety Board notes that small passenger vessels engaged in commuter and ferry service that were built, converted, or issued an initial COI after March 10, 1996, are required to be fitted with remotely operated fire pumps. The Coast Guard states that the requirement does not apply to small passenger vessels built, converted, or issued an initial COI before March 10, 1996. Because the Coast Guard's review of casualty data on small passenger vessels indicated that those involved in ferry service only accounted for 8.4 percent of fire casualties between 1992 and 2000, the Coast Guard contends that the substantial cost of retrofitting vessels built before March 10, 1996, does not justify the expected benefits. By the time crewmembers discovered the Port Imperial Manhattan's fire, it was already beyond their capability to extinguish it with portable fire extinguishers. The vessel's fire main system was charged by a primary fire pump, which, in turn, was driven by the main diesel engine. The deckhands would have had to enter the engineroom in order to start the pump, which they could not do because the engineroom was on fire. To align the valves and activate the auxiliary (bilge) pump so that it would provide water to the fire main, the deckhands would also have had to enter the engineroom. Title 46 CFR 181.300(e) requires that new small passenger vessels, that is, those built, converted, or issued an initial COI on or after March 11, 1996, have a fire pump that is capable of both remote operation from the operating station and local operation at the pump. Because the Port Imperial Manhattan was built before this date, it was not required to have remotely operated pumps. Had the pumps on the Port Imperial Manhattan been capable of remote operation, the deckhands might have been able to charge a fire hose to fight the fire from the main passenger cabin or to cool the fire boundaries and limit the fire's spread. Consequently, the Safety Board concluded that the lack of remotely operated fire pumps on the Port Imperial Manhattan compromised the ability of the crew to control the fire, and the lack of such systems on other vessels similarly impairs the ability of their crews to control engineroom fires. The Board continues to believe in the validity of this recommendation; accordingly, pending further action by the Coast Guard on this recommendation, Safety Recommendation M-02-7 is classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 11/21/2003
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 11/24/2003 12:14:53 PM MC# 2030577 We do not concur with this recommendation. Small passenger vessels engaged in commuter and ferry service that were built, converted or issued an initial certificate of inspection after March 10, 1996, are required to be fitted with remotely operated fire pumps. The requirement does not apply to small passenger vessels built, converted or issued an initial Certificate of Inspection before March 10, 1996: A review of casualty data on small passenger vessels indicates that those involved in ferry service only accounted for 8.4% of fire casualties between 1992 and 2000. On balance, the substantial cost ofretrofitting vessels built before March IO, 1996, does not justify the expected benefits. We intend to take no further action on this recommendation and request that it be closed.