Coast Guard issues safety warning after Southern California boat fire

Bay Area

SAUSALITO (KRON) — In the wake of the Labor Day dive boat fire tragedy near Santa Barbara,  the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a warning to raise boat safety awareness.

That means limiting charging of lithium- ion batteries and extensive use of power strips.

The safety recommendations are meant to reduce fire hazards.

“We have bills pumps in all of our compartments, but we also have build you’re alarm so if the pump doesn’t go off, it raises a foot and you have alarms and stuff,” saud Captain Jim Robertson, Outer Limits Charter Boat. 

For Robertson, it means checking if everything’s ready safety wise for his guests when he takes them out fishing in the San Francisco Bay.

“We have to stay on top of everything to make sure when you’re dealing with the public, you want everything to work the way it’s supposed to work,” Robertson said.

And there is great risk in the wake of the conception dive boat fire near Santa Barbara.

34 people were killed.

While the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

The U.S. Coast Guard is urging owners and operators of vessels to immediately reduce potential fire hazards.

“The use of extension cords and particular surge protectors, especially on ships is problematic and definitely a potential source of fire,” said George Zeitler, former U.S. Coast Guard investigator. 

Investigators say charging lithium ion batteries on board also pose a risk.

“People can’t plug in a bunch of stuff on the boat,” Robertson said.

On the Outer Limits, Captain Robertson has one outlet for guests.

 “You don’t allow powerstrips? No. I have no power strips on the boat,” Robertson said.

Robertson says the number one safety must for boat owners is to have plenty of life saving flotation aboard.

While his boat is different than the conception.

There’s no overnight fishing or bunk rooms below deck,

“My customers are all up in this area here in the cabin,” Robertson said.

And making sure the crew is trained for emergencies.

“We train our deck hands to know like say we had a fire or something, they would get everybody up on the valve, the deck hand crew is informed on where people need to be when there’s accidents,” Robertson said. 

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