US Coast Guard Releases Safety Alert on Small Vessel Fires

US Coast Guard Warns On Open Flames And Hidden Hatches
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The US Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis Commandant has issued a new Marine Safety Alert, highlighting the risk of fires onboard small passenger vessels. The alert was released in response to ongoing investigations by the US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board into two small passenger vessel fires that resulted in millions of dollars in damages. The alert urges operators to consider alternatives to open flames as table decor, such as battery-powered lights, and to use flameless heating units or air-activated warmers instead of Sterno cans, which remain hot after extinguishment.

Operators are also urged to consider non-combustible alternatives to trash receptacles, as polyethylene trash cans are highly combustible and can’t contain a fire. In addition, operators should inspect machinery spaces to ensure combustible materials are stored as far away as possible from potential sources of ignition, including engines and machinery.

The alert also notes the danger of circular hatches in the main deck being covered with patterned carpet, making them difficult to spot in emergencies. The US Coast Guard does not require additional markings, but the alert recommends hazard tape or other floor marking tapes to clearly delineate locations. The alert serves as a reminder of the importance of safety measures on board small passenger vessels, particularly when it comes to the risk of fires, which can have devastating consequences at sea.

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