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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.
TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Establish firefighting training requirements for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels in commuter and ferry service. (Superseded by M-06-010)
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Superseded
River, NY, United States
Fire on Board the Small Passenger Vessel
Port Imperial Manhattan
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
USCG (Closed - Superseded)
Firefighting, Training and Education
Safety Recommendation History
Letter Mail Controlled 10/18/2007 11:20:45 AM MC# 2070586
On November 11, 2003, the Coast Guard responded that it partially concurred with Safety Recommendation M-02-9, but that it believed .the current requirements and recommendations are sufficient and that it intended .to take no further action on this recommendation. However, Federal regulations do not require masters and deckhands on small passenger vessels to undergo formal firefighting training. Rather, the requirements at 46 CFR 185.420 and 185.524 stipulate that newly hired deckhands be instructed as to their duties in an emergency and that masters hold sufficient fire drills to familiarize crewmembers with their duties in case of a fire. The format and depth of the required instruction for new deckhands are left to the discretion of individual companies. The requirement for masters to hold sufficient fire drills is also subject to discretionary compliance. Moreover, because masters are not required to complete training in firefighting techniques, they may not be prepared to train others or to evaluate the effectiveness of fire drills. According to fire safety professionals and training materials such as those offered by the PVA, effective marine firefighting requires crewmembers to know about the various fire classes (A = paper and other common combustible materials, B = flammable liquids and gases, C = electrical, D = combustible metals such as magnesium), the basic chemistry of fire (fuel, heat, oxygen, chemical reaction), and the proper use of various extinguishing agents (water for cooling burning materials, dry chemicals or CO2 for extinguishing a fire). Effective marine firefighting also requires practical knowledge of the sequence of steps crewmembers should follow in combating a fire on board a vessel. The first step is to locate the fire and report it. The next step is to prevent the fire from spreading by closing doors, portholes, ventilators, and other openings (hatches should not be opened). Finally, the fire should be extinguished by using appropriate agents and methods. Afterward, crewmembers should monitor the area in case the fire reignites. Because the crewmembers of the Express Shuttle II did not use proper firefighting techniques, they were ineffective in controlling or extinguishing the fire. Crewmembers delayed in notifying the master of the fire, and the master did not respond immediately to their warning. When the master saw smoke coming from the engine space, he should have realized that the fire was already beyond the first stage.46 The deckhands should have been instructed to secure the engineroom ventilation and close all access to the space containing the fire. Instead, crewmembers opened the hatches to the engineroom at least three times, feeding the fire with oxygen each time. The master made no attempt to activate the vessels fixed CO2 fire-extinguishing system, which neither deckhand even knew about. The deckhands had had no formal firefighting training and had participated in no fire drills during their employment with Paradise of Port Richey. The Safety Board therefore concludes that the crewmembers firefighting efforts were ineffective in controlling or extinguishing the Express Shuttle II fire because they lacked adequate firefighting training and because the master did not take appropriate fire suppression measures. In light of the evidence from the Express Shuttle II and previous vessel fires that it has investigated, the Safety Board believes that the Coast Guard should establish firefighting training requirements for crewmembers on board all small passenger vessels. The Safety Board recognizes that rulemaking by the Coast Guard to require firefighting training for crewmembers on all small passenger vessels will take time. Until such time as the Federal regulations are revised, the Safety Board believes that Paradise of Port Richey should develop and implement a training program in marine firefighting for its crewmembers. To do so, Paradise of Port Richey could use the training videos and written material related to basic firefighting and marine fire safety that have been developed by the PVA and that the organization makes available for a small fee. The above recommendation to the Coast Guard builds on Safety Recommendation M-02-9, expanding it from commuter and ferry vessels to all small passenger vessels. On April 7, 2005, pending further action by the Coast Guard, the Safety Board classified Safety Recommendation M-02-9 Open--Unacceptable Response. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-02-9 is classified Closed-Superseded by Safety Recommendation M-06-10 on April 4, 2006.
The Safety Board notes that firefighting training requirements have been established for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels, including those engaged in commuter and ferry service. We further note that, to become a master of a small passenger vessel, an individual is required to demonstrate proficiency on fire prevention and firefighting topics, including organization of fire drills, classes and chemistry of fire, firefighting systems, firefighting equipment and regulations, and basic firefighting and prevention, and that other crewmembers are required to receive training on the duties they will be expected to perform in an emergency, including a fire emergency. The Coast Guard cites the guidance and recommendations for training of deckhands that is provided through Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 1-91. The Safety Board considers it equally important for small passenger vessel operators in the commuter trade to provide fire safety training to their deckhands. If a fire breaks out on board a commuter vessel, the unlicensed/undocumented deckhands will be required to fight or control it until outside assistance can arrive. For their safety and for the safety of the passengers on board, these deckhands should be trained in the proper procedures to follow and the actions to take for all foreseeable fire scenarios. The Board concluded in the Port Imperial Manhattan report that the lack of formal emergency training for crewmembers on small passenger vessels left them unprepared to handle emergencies, thus creating an unsafe environment for the traveling public. The issue of crew training was also investigated in the September 28, 2001, fire on the small passenger vessel Seastreak New York. The Board concluded in its report of that accident that while the fire was successfully extinguished, the crew's lack of training could have negatively impacted passenger safety. 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-02-9 is classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."
Letter Mail Controlled 11/24/2003 12:14:53 PM MC# 2030577 We partially concur with this recommendation. Firefighting training requirements have been established for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels, including those engaged in commuter and ferry service. To become a Master af a small passenger vessel, an individual is required to demonstrate proficiency on fire prevention and firefighting topics, including organization of fire drills, classes and chemistry of fire, firefighting systems, tirefighting equipment and regulations, and basic firefighting and prevention. Other crewmembers are required to receive training on the duties they will be expected to perform in an emergency, including a fire emergency. Additional guidance and recommendations for training of deckhands is provided through Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) l-91. Accordingly. we believe the current requirements and recommendations are sufftcient. We intend to take no further action on this recommendation and request that it be closed.
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