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Fire and evacuation safety procedures on British Liveaboards?

Discussion in 'British Isles' started by shoredivr, Sep 14, 2019.

  1. shoredivr

    shoredivr Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ontario
    In the wake of the California liveaboard fire on the Conception, I’ve been wondering how other cold water dive locations do liveaboard fire and safety.

    I live in Ontario, Canada, and there are no active liveaboards in Canadian Great Lakes waters that I know of. Nor are there any active liveaboards on the coast of British Columbia. So no regulations applying here to liveaboards at this time

    I do see a number of Scapa Flow liveaboards, like the Valhalla and the Invincible. Can anybody describe the fire and safety regulations on British-water liveaboards? Escape hatches (eg position, size, not obscured by dive bunks)? Hull materials (eg steel preferred as fibreglass emits toxic smoke)? Any charging station regulations regarding lithium batteries which are known to catch fire? Crew review of emergency fire fighting procedures on each voyage?

    Thanks for your thoughts. The Conception fire has certainly changed my needs when considering liveaboards.
  2. Gareth J

    Gareth J Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK
    I am certain the events in California will have British skippers reviewing their policies and practices.

    One significant difference, UK boats are restricted to 12 passengers + crew. (I am fairly certain, there are no UK dive boats with a licence that allows more than this).

    I have certainly stayed on a boat moored in a harbour where there have been no crew on board.

    One other point.
    To the best of my memory, all the boats that I have used in the UK, have included a safety briefing on boarding.
    I was on a day boat last weekend (no staying on board overnight). On both days, on leaving the harbour the skipper gave us a safety briefing. This covered
    1. GPS information, radios, and how to contact the coastguard in the event we lost the skipper.
    2. Position of life jackets,
    3. Position of fire fighting equipment,
    4. Position of first aid kit.
    5. Position of O2 kit.
    6. Position and operation of the lifeboat (and the fact it has a hydrostatic release (all UK boats have similar)).
    7. MOB procedure and pelican buoys.
    8. Dive procedure for leaving the boat and recovery.

    I'm sure I've missed something, but these where the points I specifically remember. The briefing, is similar on most boats I have used.

    Lorenzoid likes this.
  3. Rich1280

    Rich1280 Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Yorkshire, UK
    I use UK liveaboards quite a lot, we have great diving here so don't necessarily see the need to travel. We always get a boat brief, even if we've been aboard before with plans on safety kit. As Gareth mentioned, they're usually for 12 plus crew, not 20 odd like the Conception.
    There's always 2 separate ways off the corridors I can think of on the boat we usually use, to different parts of the deck.
    I don't know about legislation, but I have had another look at my and our club practices since then, but don't feel a significant need to change much as yet.
  4. Roz

    Roz Scuba Media & Publications

    Re Valhalla. She is longer than Conception at 23.95m and she is made from steel. She is licensed for 12 divers. (Pretty much every single Brit liveaboard I can think of is licensed for 12 divers).

    Her sleeping accommodation is below deck and there are six cabins, each with two bunks. I chose to sleep in the cabin with the fire escape in it. This is a fixed ladder to the wall and you climb straight up, push open the hatch cover, and climb out onto the main dive deck. You do not have to climb over a bunk to access the ladder. You just walk into the cabin and start climbing.

    The main staircase down to the sleeping accommodation brings you up into a covered area where divers don and doff suits, so a different part of the ship.

    In the main we are hot on safety in the UK. We run to HSE regulations, Health and Safety. Brit version of OSHA. And we have a lot of maritime laws and rules. Like the USA, our boats are inspected and licensed. I have to admit I am somewhat surprised at the pax numbers allowed on USA boats. In comparison, we run to low pax numbers.

    We are given safety briefs on our boats and this will include fire protocols.

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