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Legal considerations for the Fire on dive boat Conception in CA

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by onestep, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    As per my post in the other thread, Nautilus Explorer, main stairway exits to dive deck, emergency hatch, at opposite end of the hallway, to the dining room.

    Unless it was absolutely impossible, though my room was next to the emergency hatch, I had planned to take the stairs to the dive deck.
    markmud likes this.
  2. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    How did one get to the wheelhouse from the inside? Ladder on the forward end of the galley? From the wheelhouse I can see a door out the side.

    If so, that is the second means of escape from the galley/salon area.
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  3. ChrisM

    ChrisM Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    The only wheelhouse access I am aware of is a ladder from the dive deck. There may be another.

    Of course here I’ve begun to think of this as a 3 story structure fire with the middle story reportedly engulfed. It was enough apparently to prevent those in the bunks from coming up. If so it was basically burning the wood and plastic at the feet of the crew in the wheelhouse and preventing them from going down
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  4. EricTheDood

    EricTheDood DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
    Compliance doesn't absolve liability and get you out of court. Compliance helps show you tried, but it's just one of many hundreds of evidentiary exhibits presented to a jury during a trial. The owner of a movie theater is still liable if patrons die in a fire.

    The owner has the option of dragging other people into the lawsuit - the builder and architect, the suppliers of all building materials, the suppliers of the chairs, etc. But it's a double edged sword. If he continues to operate his other movie theaters with known safety issues, how can he convince a jury that safety is his number one concern?
    roman50 likes this.
  5. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    You are correct, but doesn't it kind of shift some responsibility to the regulatory authority that wrote the specifications and inspected it annually for 38 years? And considered it sufficient?

    The owner did not lock the fire doors in the movie theater to keep kids out who didn't pay, nor did he anticipate a lone gunman in the theater and take precautions. And yes, I get that anyone can sue anyone for anything, all you have to do is find a complicit jury.

    I am neither a lawyer nor do I play one on television, and I understand that civil court is neither fair nor impartial, and that the Coast Guard has a tough part to play. If they change regulations (to catch up with modern batteries, or to require fume hoods in the galley, or whatever) than they are saying that regulations weren't sufficient to protect property and lives at sea. If they don't change the regulations, they are saying that regulations are sufficient, and that 34 people died and no one knows why. It's hard to be in a highly regulated business.
  6. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    Such ********. Truth Aquatics has an excellent reputation and safety history. I've dived on their boats and would do it again.
  7. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    I'm late to the legal party and haven't read the whole thread, but in some circumstances there is a law or regulation that precludes liability for negligence if the party adhered to the specified regulatory standards. The idea is to avoid wasteful litigation by substituting a regulatory scheme. I have no idea if USCG regulations have such effect.
    chillyinCanada and DebbyDiver like this.
  8. Must_dash

    Must_dash Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Lago Maggiore, Varese, Italy
    Take a step back and look at cars. We crash them, the rules change and designers build better cars and the circle keeps going. Every design weakness creates a design improvement. For every 1000 safety features the designers put in the hand of fate is looking for the 1001st that hasn't been considered.

    Boats in general are pretty safe and the regs evolve to suit issues that caused the last major incident.
    As was said earlier the important thing is to find the cause of a fire that spread so fast. electrical, fuel, non fire resistant material. Did the fire alarm work? Sprinklers or represant systems.
    The NTSB will make recomendations and the rules will evolve and hopefully a similar fire will not occur again.
  9. bigDave

    bigDave Nassau Grouper

    I think that’s a great analogy, except perhaps a 2 story structure with a basement.
    Hoyden and chillyinCanada like this.
  10. roakey

    roakey Old, not bold diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Colorado Springs, CO
    Updated with better pictures.

    You can't get to the wheelhouse from the inside.

    Here are two pictures, one overview from the truthaquatics.com website and another frame grab from a youtube video of the ladder that comes down from the sun deck/wheelhouse. The red circle on the port side of the main deck of the overview is where the picture of the ladder descending from the sundeck was taken.

    So to get from the wheelhouse to the main deck you'd exit towards the stern from the wheelhouse, cross the sundeck, heading toward starboard and descend the ladder to the main deck - which is immediately next to the dining room exit. My assumption is the dining room exit area was engulfed in flames which is why they had to jump.

    In the ladder picture you can also see the "cabinet" in front of the diver which is the emergency exit hatch loacted at the rear of the bunk area.

    The "door" you see on the starboard side of the wheelhouse is a poor man's version of a flying bridge (there's probably a nautical term for it which I don't know) - I don't believe there's an exit there unless you're jumping




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    danddmiller1, Hoyden, couv and 3 others like this.

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