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Tugboat Fire Highlights Need for Training

by Bill Mahoney | Oct 20, 2022

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On November 9, 2021, about 0708 local time, a fire broke out on the port main diesel engine on board the towing vessel Capt. Kirby Dupuis.

Crewmembers fought the fire using portable extinguishers and attempted to use the vessel’s fixed fire-extinguishing system. This effort was unsuccessful.

Damage to the vessel was estimated at$1,800,000.

Upon investigation, the NTSB determined that the deckineer did not properly deploy the fixed-fire extinguishing system due to a lack of familiarization. Had system familiarization been a part of SMS drills and training, the fire could have been controlled.

We're big believers in concise emergency response checklists to address a variety of potential and most probable scenarios. Crew engagement with checklists during drills reinforces critical actions and informs where changes may be beneficial.

Checklists for this purpose provide an effective tool to aid in preparedness, training and response. Checklist design and content matter as reflected by our preferred subject matter expert in this area:

Good checklists...are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything--a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps--the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.

Atul Gawande,The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

SMSLLC is the industry leader in safety management systems. We stand ready to assist passenger vessel operators by providing information, guidance, and support to achieve and sustain success.