Coast Guard announces safety rules after deadly boat fire

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The Coast Guard has announced new safety rules after a deadly fire that sent dozens of people on a scuba diving boat to an underwater grave off the California coast more than two years ago.

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LOS ANGELES – The Coast Guard has announced a slew of new safety regulations following a deadly fire that sent dozens of people on a scuba diving boat to an underwater grave off the California coast more than two years ago.

The Labor Day 2019 fire that killed 34 people aboard the Conception off Santa Barbara marked the deadliest maritime disaster in the history of the modern state and called for criminal charges and stricter rules for small passenger ships.

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Under the interim rules to take effect over the next two years, boat owners were required to, among other things, install fire detection and suppression systems, use equipment that provided better escapes and ensure night watchmen, and frequent detours. will need to be installed.

Boylan has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of murder of the sailor. He is free on bond awaiting trial in US District Court in Los Angeles.

The new rules were expected after Congress mandated in December 2020 that the Coast Guard review its rules for small passenger ships. The legislation included in the National Defense Authorization Act also added new requirements regarding fire detection and suppression.

The National Transportation Safety Board, in its investigation, recommended that the Coast Guard require boat owners to install more comprehensive smoke detector systems, upgrade emergencies present and perform mandatory inspection checks on revolving clocks.

Since 1991, no owner, operator or charterer has been issued a citation or fine for failure to post a rowing patrol, prompting the NTSB to blame the Coast Guard for not enforcing that requirement. and recommended that a program be developed to ensure boats with passengers actually overnight. There are watchmen.

The rules, published late last month in the Federal Register, take effect on March 28 and could be changed after the public comment period ends in June.

They do not apply to ferries or fishing boats.

Other requirements include improved crew training, escape exercises for passengers and guidance on how to handle flammable items such as rechargeable batteries.

While investigators said they could not determine what caused the fire as the boat burned down and sank, they say the fire started behind the main deck saloon – where divers found a vehicle containing phones, flashlights and combustible lithium-ion batteries. Other stuff was plugged in.

After the fire, the Coast Guard issued a bulletin recommending a limit on the uncontrolled use of lithium-ion batteries and the widespread use of power strips and extension cords.

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Associated Press journalist Janet McConaughey contributed from New Orleans.

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