Fatal Conception Boat Fire Prompts New Coast Guard Safety Protocols
By edhat staff
During the last week of 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard issued interim fire safety protocols for small passenger vessels following the deadly 2019 Conception boat fire off the Santa Barbara coast.
On September 9, 2019, the Santa Barbara-based diving boat caught fire in the early morning hours while anchored off Santa Cruz Island. All 33 passengers and one crew member who sleeping below deck died. The captain and remaining crew members who slept above deck had jumped overboard and survived.
The U.S. Coast Guard announced its intention to issue a set of interim rules on certain covered small passenger vessels. The rules address many of the safety recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued as a result of its investigation of the fire aboard the Conception.
“The Coast Guard’s interim rules addressing the recommendations 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.
This interim rule adds additional fire safety requirements for small passenger vessels, including fire detection and suppression systems, avenues of escape, egress drills, crew firefighting training, watchmen monitoring devices, and the handling of flammable items such as rechargeable batteries.
“Although there is more work to be done, including the implementation of safety management systems for passenger vessel operations, we are encouraged by the Coast Guard’s actions and look forward to reviewing the interim rules,” Homendy said.
In part due to the Conception fire, improving passenger and fishing vessel safety was added to the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements in April 2021.