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US Sweeping safety rules proposed in wake of Conception boat fire that killed 34 people

03:25  13 december  2019
03:25  13 december  2019 Source:   latimes.com

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The Conception had passed its previous inspections, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester said at a press conference shortly after the fire . The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report in September that found the Boat Fire Investigator Reveals ‘Harrowing’ Details.

The boat , named Conception , was anchored just off Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire and sank early on Sept. The cause ultimately will be ruled as accidental, incendiary — meaning it was deliberately set — or undetermined. Authorities have said there is no indication the fire was arson.

LOS ANGELES — California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday proposed sweeping boat safety legislation in the wake of the Conception fire that killed 34 people.

Dianne Feinstein in a suit and tie: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks at the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Department of Justice Inspector General's report regarding the investigation into the Department of Justice and FBI's work regarding the 2016 presidential election.© Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks at the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Department of Justice Inspector General's report regarding the investigation into the Department of Justice and FBI's work regarding the 2016 presidential election.

The legislation would require small passenger vessels to have at least two escape exits, strengthen standards for fire alarm systems and create mandatory safety rules for handling and storage of phones, cameras and other electronic devices with lithium-ion batteries.

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The diving boat that caught fire on Labor Day off Southern California, killing 34 people , was among hundreds of small vessels exempted by the U.S. Coast The Coast Guard has the authority to make immediate safety changes in the wake of incidents such as the deadly Conception fire , McAvoy said.

The Conception dive boat accident that killed 34 people on Labor Day was one of the worst maritime disasters in California history, but the safety lapses that led to it were hardly unprecedented. The Ventura County Fire Department released this photo of the Conception 's burned-out wreckage.

The proposal comes amid growing scrutiny over how the Coast Guard has regulated passenger vessels. A Los Angeles Times review of Coast Guard records over 20 years found the agency repeatedly rejected recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board for tougher safety rules.

The documents showed that after investigating earlier boat fires, the NTSB called on the Coast Guard to require small vessels to establish procedures for conducting regular inspections and reporting maintenance and repair needs for all of a boat’s systems. But the Coast Guard rejected those calls, calling them “unnecessarily burdensome and a duplication of existing requirements.”

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The Coast Guard is considering new safety regulations following last month's dive boat fire that killed 34 people , according to two local A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board on the fatal Labor Day blaze on the dive boat Conception said no one was standing watch when the

The owner of a scuba diving boat company announced Tuesday a voluntary indefinite suspension of its fleet in the wake of the Conception boat fire off the Santa Barbara coast that killed 34 people . Conception Boat Fire : Vessel Was Exempt From Latest Coast Guard Safety Rules , Records Show.

The cause of the Conception fire is still under investigation. Authorities have said they believe the passengers were trapped below deck when the fire broke out. The NTSB has raised concerns about the functionality of the two exits in the area where passengers slept in stacked bunks beneath the waterline.

NTSB investigator Jennifer Homendy said in September that she was “taken aback” by the small size of the emergency escape hatches, adding that she thought it would be difficult for passengers to exit during an emergency in the dark.

The Times reported last month that the Conception was one of about 325 small passenger vessels built before 1996 and given special exemptions from safety standards that the Coast Guard imposed on new vessels, some of which required larger escape hatches and illuminated exit signs.

The Coast Guard could not immediately be reached for comment. But after the Times story ran, officials said they would reconsider some of the rejected safety recommendations.

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Diving Boat That Killed 34 in Fire Was Exempt from Stricter Safety Rules : Report. The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report in September that found the Conception had violated a roving night watch requirement, as all six of its crew members were sleeping when the fire

Thirty - four people died when the Conception burned and sank before dawn on Sept. 2. They were sleeping in a cramped bunkroom below the main Authorities are looking into the fatal fire aboard the Conception in criminal and safety investigations. While Jennifer Homendy of the NTSB has

In September, a fire broke out on the Conception during a weekend diving excursion in the Channel Islands, killing everyone who had been sleeping below deck. Since the accident, investigators have cited some of the same deficiencies pointed out by the NTSB in other boat fires: lack of crew training and inadequate safety measures and maintenance.

A preliminary NTSB investigation found that the Conception had violated a requirement that it have a roving watch during the night, saying the five crew members who survived awoke to discover the flames. The agency also has raised concerns about the functionality of the two exits in the area where passengers slept.

The results from the NTSB investigation into the Labor Day disaster could take 18 months to complete. Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are trying to determine what sparked the blaze.

“The Conception boat fire was a tragedy that could have been prevented had stronger safety measures been in place. We can’t allow this to happen again,” Feinstein, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We must ensure that small passenger vessels have the right safety measures in place to prevent disasters at sea.”

The bill was co-written by Reps. Salud Carbajal and Julia Brownley, both California Democrats.

One goal of the legislation is to better protect boats that the Coast Guard didn’t require to follow newer safety rules.

“It is abundantly clear that Congress must take immediate action to address safety hazards on older boats, which were grandfathered in and exempted from newer safety rules,” Brownley said in a statement.

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©2019 Los Angeles Times

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