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Safety Recommendation Details
On the morning of October 17, 2004, a fire broke out in the engineroom of the U.S. small passenger vessel Express Shuttle II while it was entering the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River near Port Richey, Florida. The shuttle was returning from the Gulf of Mexico, where it had ferried 78 passengers to a casino boat offshore, and was on its way back to the marina operated by the vessel’s owner, Paradise of Port Richey. Only the master and two deckhands were on board when the fire broke out. None of the crew activated the vessel’s fixed carbon dioxide (CO2) fire suppression system. The crew attempted to fight the fire with portable extinguishers, but when the fire burned out of control, they prepared to abandon ship. A passing recreational boat, operated by an off-duty Coast Guardsman, rescued the crewmembers. Firefighters from Port Richey and Pasco County fought the blaze, but the vessel, valued at $800,000, was destroyed.
The National Transportation Safety Board makes the following new safety recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard: Establish firefighting training requirements for crewmembers on board all small passenger vessels. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation M-02-009)
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
Port Richey, FL, United States
Fire On Board U.S. Small Passenger Vessel
Express Shuttle II
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
USCG (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Firefighting,Training and Education
Safety Recommendation History
The NTSB notes that the Coast Guard met with representatives from the PVA in January 2008 and consulted with their leadership regarding the safety recommendations to revise Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular No. 1-91 (NVIC 1-91) to provide more in-depth firefighting training and guidance and to provide detailed guidance on crowd control management procedures. The NTSB further notes that this meeting also addressed the issue of revising 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Subchapter B, Merchant Marine Officers and Seamen, to establish firefighting requirements for crewmembers on small passenger vessels. The NTSB is disappointed to learn that as a result of the PVA meetings, the Coast Guard has decided not to revise NVIC 1-91, as requested, or 46 CFR Subchapter B, believing that the current general guidance in NVIC 1-91 is sufficient. In previous correspondence, the NTSB explained its rationale for the requested revisions to the NVIC and regulation. Despite these explanations, the Coast Guard has not changed its position. Accordingly, because the Coast Guard has made it clear that it believes the general guidance in NVIC 1-91 and Subchapter B, as currently written, is sufficient and intends to take no further action on these issues, Safety Recommendations M-02-10 and -12 and M-06-10 are classified Closed Unacceptable Action.
Letter Mail Controlled 2/20/2009 11:16:05 AM MC# 2090085: Status: In response to recommendations M-02-10 and M-04-10, we met with representatives from the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) in January 2008 and consulted with their leadership regarding the Board’s request to revise Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 1-9 1 to include detailed guidance €or the small passenger vessel industry and more in- depth guidance in training and drills €or firefighting on board small passenger vessels. Rased on the consensus reached by those in attendance, we decided to keep the guidance in NVIC 1-91 general in nature, which allows the small passenger vessel industry the flexibility to develop and tailor the training and firefighting drills to the specific needs of each small passenger vessel. We will continue to work with the PVA and play an active role in assessing qualificatiodtraining programs and evaluating crews’ ability to conduct firefighting and abandon vessel drills during required inspections. We consider our action on this recommendation complete and request that it be closed.
The Safety Board is aware that 46 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Part 185 mandates basic firefighting training for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels. The Board is also aware that 46 CFR Subchapter B requires a candidate for a license as master of a small passenger vessel to demonstrate proficiency in fire prevention and firefighting topics. This requirement is addressed by the inclusion of firefighting questions in the safety section of the license exam relating to the organization of fire drills, classes and chemistry of fire, firefighting systems, firefighting equipment and regulations, and basic firefighting and prevention. The exams alone do not establish that the applicant is proficient in firefighting or in emergency response. Further, it is quite possible for an applicant to fail the few fire safety questions and still receive a passing grade of 70 percent on the safety section of the master’s exam. The Safety Board is pleased that the Coast Guard will consider amending these requirements to include formal firefighting training for masters of small passenger vessels and that the Coast Guard has added this issue to the possible revisions to Subchapter B. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-06-10 is classified Open Acceptable Response, pending the revision of NVIC 1-91.
We partially concur with this recommendation. Firefighting training requirements currently exist for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels. 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. We will consider amending these requirements to include formal firefighting training for Masters of small passenger vessels and have added it as an issue in a regulatory project to revise 46 CFR Subchapter B. Other crewmembers are currently required to receive training on the duties they will be expected to perform in an emergency, including a fire emergency in accordance with 46 Code of Federal regulations (CFR) 185. Additional guidance and recommendations for training of deckhands is provided through Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 1-91. In consultation with the passenger vessel industry, we will consider revising NVIC 1-91 to include more in-depth guidance in training and drills for firefighting. We will keep the Board informed of our progress on this recommendation.
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.
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