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Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ US https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ California Boat Fire: The concept is a "fire trap," experts say

California Boat Fire: The concept is a "fire trap," experts say

A dive day on Santa Cruz Island ended like countless others aboard the conception, with dozens of divers sleeping in tightly packed cells that all but filled the belly of a 75-foot boat.

As always, there were two exits in case of emergency – up a curved staircase in front of the cab or through an emergency sunroof on the ceiling above the rear axle.

Before dawn on Labor Day, when a 38-year-old flame engulfed a wooden hull, no one below the deck was able to escape from any exit. The only survivors were five crew members who were upstairs in the interior room and were able to do so
jump into the water and then onto the boat.

Now, while investigators are searching for the cause of the fire that killed everyone in the two-story space – one crew member and all 33 passengers, questions are being asked about the design of the Concept and its escape route.

According to various reports, both the design of the boat and the layout of its sleeping quarters meet federal standards, both of which are widely popular with California night-time dive and fishing operators.

Like other such commercial boats, the Concept was subject to annual Coast Guard inspections at the latest in February, when it was certified as complying with all regulations.

But just because it worked in conjunction with the Coast Guard does not mean that the conception was as safe as it could be, according to some naval design and safety experts who raised concerns about the emergency routes from the two-story space.

John McDevit, a former assistant fire chief from Pennsylvania who is an accredited marine surveyor and chairman of the National Fire Protection Service. Commercial Fire and Recreational Boat Fire Protection Committee called the concept "compatible fire trap."

"What bothers me is that the ship has been inspected by the Coast Guard in the last 12 months," said McDevit, who believes the design of emergency exits was problematic. "This boat has been inspected by the Coast Guard for almost 40 years."

The concept is one of three "aboard" dives operated by the Santa Barbara port from Truth Aquatics Inc., which has been operating since 1974 and is now owned. by Glenn Fritzler. He declined requests from The Times for an interview, but defended the actions of his crew members in an attempt to rescue the doomed passengers.

Fritzler said in a statement that he was working with investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and was "committed to finding the right answers as quickly as possible. "He also said he and his family were" completely overwhelmed "by the incident.

"My family and I are talking today with an extremely heavy heart," he said. "No words will alleviate the pain experienced by loved ones. We extend our deepest condolences to all involved in this horrific tragedy. ”

The concept was built in Long Beach in 1981, designed by its original owner and long-retired founder Roy Royzer, specifically for multi-day diving trips.

"I designed the entire layout of the ship," Houser said. "I pulled it a quarter inch to the foot and gave it to a marine architect. They assemble the Coast Guard's final papers, if you will. Glen has all the plans and they are all stamped "approved." … Everything you do must be approved by the Coast Guard. "

Hauser said that Fritzler kept the boat in" pristine "condition and he protected its design features as" Absolutely "safely. He noted that many of its features are common to California dives and fishing boats, a statement supported by others in the industry.

Ken Curtis, a veteran California diver and instructor whose Reef Seekers Dive Co. has been organizing voyages since 1988, said

He describes the three-level design as very similar to other such boats: sleeping quarters below deck, main deck that includes a covered galley to the bow with aft dive and a wheelhouse with controls on the captain at the top.

Kurtis said that there was nothing unusual about the combination of a 75-foot boat made of double and triple stacked two-story boxes or the passenger boundary by 46 – the number was 12 below that capacity when the fire broke out.

"Passenger loads vary depending on the size of the ship," he said. "They had 33 passengers. This is a normal dive number. Most of the large dive boats are 30 to 35, and they are all designed in almost the same way, with sockets at the bottom, galley and saloon in the middle and steering wheel on top. "

Chris Barry, chairman of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers' Small Technical and Research Committee, agreed that the structure of the conception and the narrow sleeping quarters were not unusual.

Some California divers have called the popular style of excursion a "livestock boat" because of the tight space and lack of cabinets and other cabin amenities.

"The people on those dive boats just bump into the bottom," Barry said. "These are not luxury offices. All they want to do is crash and sleep – they don't need much luxury and there is obviously a trade-off between the amount of space a person has and the cost. "

Crowded neighborhoods" may look a little rough "But they are 'absolutely legal,'" he said, noting that sailors
The Coast Guard cutters also sleep in three high bunks.

"It's nothing out of the ordinary for the ship," he said.

The fact that no passenger below deck escaped
focuses attention on the exits of the two-story room. The stairs in the bedrooms led to the gallery. The escape hatch in the back of the room opens into a dining area adjacent to the gallery and just a few meters away
outdoor dive site.

Officials stated that the fire had blocked both exits.

"I definitely have concerns about the ability of these passengers to be evacuated during a fire," NTSB commissioner Jennifer Hommy, who heads the board of inquiry, told The Times this week.

Homdy said she was "confused" by the size and layout of the emergency hatch when she visited the sister ship of Conception Vision, which has a nearly identical design.

"You have to climb up the stairs and over the top bed and then push the wooden door up," she said. "It was a tight space. … It amazes me how small and how difficult the access is."

The ship appears to comply with applicable federal regulations requiring boats such as the "Concept" to have "at least two means of escape", including stairways and emergency hatches.

"The two necessary means of escape should be widely separated and, if possible, at opposite ends of the space, to minimize the possibility of an incident blocking both escapes," the regulation states, noting also that exits should be "sufficient for rapid emergency evacuation."

It is unclear if passengers ever had a chance to try to escape. Santa Barbara County
Sheriff Bill Brown, who is also the coroner, said smoke inhalation was the likely cause of death.

However, McDevit, a marine surveyor who is also certified by the Coast Guard, captain, stated that the design of the boat was wrong. He questioned why both exit points – the staircase and the hatch – deposited passengers in the gallery and the adjoining eating area.

"When you put two exits in the same common area, you do not provide two exits – there is still only one," he said. "You go out into the gallery and into the common area."

He said that regardless of the minimum standards, passenger volume seems to require more passageways.

McDevitt suggested adding "another hatch and maybe a bigger hatch," but noted that options would be limited for a boat this age.

"You don't want to make a boat less sea-going, so you can't put the hatches aside, "he said. "If they built this boat today, they could do more … When you leave people there in this dungeon, it has to be waterproof. "

Paul Kamen, a naval architect and mechanical engineer based in Berkeley, said he thought the escape hatch size was approximately 2 feet adequate, but he also questioned putting the two starting points in the gallery and in the nearby eating area.

'The common places to start a fire are the gallery or the engine room, so there is always one [other] Escape the Road. Whatever is on fire, you go out the other way, ”he said. "The problem here is that both escape routes went through the galley and you lost that excess when the galley was engulfed in flames."

Kamen had no problem with the passenger capacity of the boat, agreeing that many divers "believe, it's cool for you to be crowded in a similar environment – it's about the traditions of the sea being in a triple high bunk bed with another 30 people.

He said he was more intrigued by the rapid growth of the fire.

„Голямата загадка е защо огънят се разпространява толкова бързо и толкова бързо“, каза Камен. „Не мисля, че обзавеждането с дърва в пътническата кабина наистина го обяснява.“

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