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......EDIT: For those of you who have smoke detectors on your boats, what brand/model do you have, and what experience do you have with false alarms?
I don’t know the exact model, but it’s a combined CO and smoke detector. Pretty sure it’s a First Alert. It’s the only one we have an it’s installed outside our aft stateroom, essentially over the engine compartment. I can’t say this for sure, but it seems to me that most (is it all?) smoke/CO alarms are photoelectric on the smoke side. Fact check that, I do not know which I have.

It’s only alarmed once in the untold years we’ve had it aboard. I think I mentioned it above. I was frying breakfast potatoes and don’t recall any visible smoke. It’s on the opposite side of the salon, up high, so cooking fumes were rising.

While a brief panic, I was glad it was so sensitive. Especially, as I’ve noted multiple time, we only have a single way in/out of out stateroom and I want to know there is a salon fire ASAP.
 

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You are absolutely correct about not rushing to judgement. But I think relative to us commenting here, we are just trying to get take aways that we can apply to make ourselves safer.
I dunno it doesn’t sound like that to me.

It sounds like a bunch of people playing amateur CSI and prospective researching internet lawyers when there are very few facts in evidence but lots of speculation,

All that behind the guise of learning a lesson to make our recreational / sailboats safer.

If half the time spent on the speculation was truly spent mourning the senseless loss of life or put to a or any cause to improve safety specifically, well that might be a positive end.

This thread instead of being a memoreum for the victims has quickly turned into legalese about lithium batteries, particle / smoke detectors, and interpreting Admiralty law, all by armchair computer surfers.

It’s a shame that the feelings about the victims were not kept in one thread and the speculative subjects in another. The victims got lost. Just MHO.
 
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I dunno it doesn’t sound like that to me.

It sounds like a bunch of people playing amateur CSI and prospective researching internet lawyers when there are very few facts in evidence but lots of speculation,

All that behind the guise of learning a lesson to make our recreational / sailboats safer....
Nope, not having any of this. Not a "guise" in any way.

I can only speak for myself here, but for me this discussion (my comments and others’) has been 100% about making out boats safer, not about playing TV detective in any way.

The USCG issued an emergency bulletin to reduce potential hazards from lithium batteries, power strips and extension cords. Whether this was a root cause or not, the fact that they initiated an emergency bulletin is worthy of discussion and action. It is only binding on inspected vessels, but certainly recreational boaters would be prudent to consider their own vessels too.

Same thing for smoke detectors as far as I'm concerned. I don't care whether Conception's detector was missing, malfunctioning, intentionally disabled, or working perfectly. It was nevertheless a reminder to upgrade my own vessel.

I do not find anything disrespectful in discussing these things. I think USCG wants mariners to discuss and take action in response to tragedies like this. Mourning is appropriate, but it’s never too early to ponder what action should be taken.

The moderators are welcome to move these things to another thread if they think it's inappropriate. But I don't see the point.
 

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Nope, not having any of this. Not a "guise" in any way.

I can only speak for myself here, but for me this discussion has been 100% about making my boat safer, not about playing TV detective in any way.

The USCG issued an emergency bulletin to reduce potential hazards from lithium batteries, power strips and extension cords. Whether this was a root cause or not, the fact that they initiated an emergency bulletin is worthy of discussion and action. It is only binding on inspected vessels, but certainly recreational boaters would be prudent to consider their own vessels too.

Same thing for smoke detectors as far as I'm concerned. I don't care whether Conception's detector was missing, malfunctioning, intentionally disabled, or working perfectly. It was nevertheless a reminder to upgrade my own vessel.

I do not find anything disrespectful in discussing these things. I think USCG wants mariners to discuss and take action in response to tragedies like this. Mourning is appropriate, but it’s never too early to ponder what action should be taken.

The moderators are welcome to move these things to another thread if they think it's inappropriate
. But I don't see the point.

Nope, I think your comments are spot on.

I commend the intelligent discussion.

Not only that, many of our members thoughts have been ratified by the USCG.

Well done SailNet members!

Mark
 

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I dunno it doesn’t sound like that to me.

It sounds like a bunch of people playing amateur CSI and prospective researching internet lawyers when there are very few facts in evidence but lots of speculation,

All that behind the guise of learning a lesson to make our recreational / sailboats safer.

If half the time spent on the speculation was truly spent mourning the senseless loss of life or put to a or any cause to improve safety specifically, well that might be a positive end.

This thread instead of being a memoreum for the victims has quickly turned into legalese about lithium batteries, particle / smoke detectors, and interpreting Admiralty law, all by armchair computer surfers.

It’s a shame that the feelings about the victims were not kept in one thread and the speculative subjects in another. The victims got lost. Just MHO.
I think if you read through the thread, you will find that many have expressed sadness regarding the terrible event.

That said, I don't think this thread was designed to be a memorial/tribune for the victims. Facebook pages are probably a much better venue for that, particularly for those who actually know the people involved personally. There have also been memorials held in California.

One thing that has impressed me with this website is that there are a number of people on here that are sticklers for factual evidence. Read back to the watchman discussion concerning the need to see the certificate of inspection before saying a watchman was required, for example.

You may call that amateur or armchair, but that is precisely the type of proof that a court of law would require, and I was impressed that folks on this website wanted to see it. FYI--I am a lawyer.
 

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I think if you read through the thread, you will find that many have expressed sadness regarding the terrible event.

That said, I don't think this thread was designed to be a memorial/tribune for the victims......
Well said. I don't think there are likely to be any exceptions to those that expressed sympathy and I don't think the examination and takeaways are anything less than useful.

What really gets me is when people criticize the individual posters themselves, either directly or for the content they choose to discuss, rather than simply state their own position on the event or issues raised.

You've done an outstanding job. Others, not so much.
 
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So now that many have gone down the rabbit hole convinced it was a blob of lithium batteries which caused this has anyone really looked into other possible causes.

Has anyone ESTABLISHED this was the cause of the ignition?

Understand I am not saying this was not the cause, but a “rush to judgement “ often blinds people to overlook other pertinent facts

This was so tragic. No escape routes. My hearts out to the victims and families.
No of course not; we are all just guessing, still. I don't know how a blob of Lithium goes off, I have believed all along O2 was involved because it was so quick, but something needs to trigger it.
 

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My wife and I were talking last night. She mentioned to me that she wants to look at our aft (sleeping) cabin and see how we could get out in case of a fire. We both want to check our smoke and CO detectors. We talked about our charging cell phone practices (not really a problem in my opinion). All this is related to our conversations over the topic of this thread.

Like the rest of us, my wife and I are so sad about this tragic loss. I hits close to home because a number of the victims were from our town of Santa Cruz. However, looking at the particulars of this event, and the various possible scenarios, allows us, as a community, to examine our practices. This not only processes our grief, but allows possible changes to be safer boaters.

Like I said, it got my wife and I talking about safety. That's a good thing.
 

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I didn’t think what I posted was going to be popular, but that’s not how we should post. I felt and still feel that tragedies are like red meat where people need to find cause and speculate unwittingly . I try and look at this as what if the relatives came along and found the thread. How would they feel? Expressions of remorse and well wishes, or a speculative lessons learned for all the rest of us. We could have been two separate threads you know, so people can express their sorrow . In this thread you’ll see a scattering of sorrow, and a lot of so called “ learning and teaching”

Hopefully Rick and others since you needed a reminder to check for safety you are doing the same in your houses. If this was your reminder , then it was a good thing to discuss. Anything which makes it safer...I am for.
Our detector is sensitive enough to detect if we are too close downwind of a boat running a generator.

Hopefully we are practicing safety with all our rechargeable devices as SOP.
Hopefully we don’t need a dive boat accident and the speculation it was caused by recharging cell phones, to make sure we have smoke and vapor detectors in all areas of our house.....and boat.

So since we are on this safety kick we are conscious of now , how many of you recharge your lithium power tools battery and leave them in the garage to do that and leave them overnight charging when you go to sleep. Do you have a smoke detector in the garage.
On your boat...how many of you run laptops with lithium batteries to recharge. Do you leave them charging when you go out to dinner? I’ve seen some catch fire before.

Like I said before....No one has proved that batteries being recharged caused this. If including all that has raised consciousness for some then I guess whatever does that is a good thing. 😨

As long as we have batteries to be recharged wether our phones, our laptops, our tools, our boat lithium ones, we are going to sometimes have an issue with them.

So what have you all done to give yourself a second egress from you cabins should all your new top of the line detectors you’ve bought go off and your egress through the companionway is not an option? Will you practice this? Will you make it part of your safety briefing with guests.
How should commercial vessels deal with this? After all that’s the main issue in this tragedy. No way to escape.

That’s what caused the deaths. Even had there been a watch present....there was no way out.
 

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I’m beginning to think the night watch just isn’t a very effective tool in the first place. It would be, if it happened to be on exact location of a smoldering fire, but I think good tech is far more likely to work than a randomly roving human on any ship with three decks or multiple rooms.
Yes, I agree. And, if they don't have some specific firefighting experience, they will be ineffective in squelching a fire and getting the passengers to safety.

Our local fire department provides a service in which they will come to any workplace with a big metal pan to start a fire. They pour some gasoline in it and light the fire. They have several fire extinguishers on hand, and allow people to try their hand at fighting the fire. After each attempt, they relight the fire and let the next person try. Every one of us got a turn.

The firemen told us that it is essential to aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. The base of fire does not have any flame or color. It is a void, just above the pan of gasoline, where the oxygen feeds the fire. The visable bright orange and yellow flame is above that. Instinctively every single one of us aimed the fire extinguisher at the bright orange and yellow glow of the flame, which was completely ineffective. When we finally followed the firemens' directions, and aimed the stream of the fire extinguisher underneath the bright orange and yellow glow, at the apparently empty void, the fire would die out immediately.

What this taught me, is that most people's instincts, to aim the fire extinguisher at the very dramatic orange and yellow flame, would be completely ineffective, and one must aim the fire extinguisher at the apparent empty void, the base of the fire, for any firefighting effort to be effective.

A watchman who has not had proper firefighting training, may well be completely ineffective in any firefighting attempt, and would fail to stop or slow the fire and save passengers.

Sadly, although I have worked at several different work sites, only the one has taken advantage of this fire safety training provided by our local fire department.
 

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Hopefully Rick and others since you needed a reminder to check for safety you are doing the same in your houses.

So since we are on this safety kick we are conscious of now , how many of you recharge your lithium power tools battery and leave them in the garage to do that and leave them overnight charging when you go to sleep.
I have been thinking about how we charge our phones and other devices, at home. We often charge devices and set them on a section of carpet, or a wooden bedside table, at night. I'm thinking that it would, at least provide a little safety, to set the devices in a metal pan, something that would be fireproof.

My LG phone shuts off the charging when it gets hot. Today I left my phone in the car seat of my car. The sun shifted to where the phone was in the sun when I came out of the store. When I started the car, and activated the charger, my phone displayed a message on the screen, saying that the charging function had been turned off because the phone detected a high temperature.
 

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I’m beginning to think the night watch just isn’t a very effective tool in the first place. It would be, if it happened to be on exact location of a smoldering fire, but I think good tech is far more likely to work than a randomly roving human on any ship with three decks or multiple rooms.
Yes, I agree. And, if they don't have some specific firefighting experience, they will be ineffective in squelching a fire and getting the passengers to safety.

I think the word used in the Certificate that @cherylchecheryl found is very important: Roving.
Now, thats a specific word. When I was in the army there were two types of Picket (piquet) - sentrys to provide warning of the enemy or security... Fire Picket - Static and Roving. A static picket manned an Observation Post and a roving picket was on the move the whole time. For a roving picket to be sitting down in time of you you'd be in the Brig for a week, if not worse.

In modern superyachting they will have a crew member on "Anchor Watch"... which in effect is a tired decky in the wheelhouse... that is not roving. What I found on one superyacht I was parked next to in a marina was the youngest decky started his Anchor Watch at 4am and his duty was to start cleaning the windows! Not only wasnt he on the bridge but he wasn't roving either.

The number of passengers must be the tipping point. On our boats we overnight at anchor with 2 or 3 guests max and have a crew of you. Cant and dont need a roving human for that. But for 35 passengers and 5 crew? Yes, there needs to be someone awake and on the move the whole time.


On @midwesterner 's point... the crew on a commercial operation must have their STCW95 (or whatever its called this week)... and thats firefighting! So these crew are trained for it. and if they are not good enough they must be retrained.

I do agree with the points about technology being, probably, best at fire detection (given what was said re dectectors)... I have my Ace Hardware smoke dectector in the Forward cabin where I sleep. When I cook it goes off! Before the steak is crispy its yelling its butt off and I cant see any smoke at all. Its a pain in the neck to drop the pan and go click it off. So once or twice Ive stuck it under the pillow so I can cook in peace - then forgotten it for a few days.
Maybe if the fire detectors are in the galley and go off every time the stove goes on someone has shoved a pillow on it?

This thread has made me decide to get more detectors, higher quality and live with their over-sensitivity. :)


Mark
 

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....She mentioned to me that she wants to look at our aft (sleeping) cabin and see how we could get out in case of a fire......
Please post any ideas, as this is a very common design issue.

The best I've got is a fire extinguisher in our aft stateroom (every room and two in the salon in fact) and a smoke/CO detector immediately outside the cabin door.

Other non-implemented ideas are to stow a fire blanket in the cabin, if needed during exit. We've also thought of stowing a cordless sawzall with an aggressive blade to cut right up into the cockpit. Although, I'm not sure there would be time or it would always be charged.

I've tried to consider whether any of the tiny hatches or ports could be enlarged, but it does not seem practical, if even possible.
 

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...The firemen told us that it is essential to aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire......
That, of course, is the right advise. There are a couple of other very important nuances, one of which is boat specific.

First, you need to consider what is burning. If it's grease/oil, a strong extinguisher stream or the wrong extinguisher will just spread it around. A stove top grease fire is best to try to smother first and the galley should always have something to do so.

Second, is the fact that down below, all boats are very small confined spaces. The moment you pull the extinguisher trigger on a powder extinguisher, it will go to zero visibilty. Instantly. There is a Youtube demonstration on this. You need to be far enough away and have your exit planned in zero viz. You'll be destroying visibility for every passenger attempting to exit too.
 

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.....This thread has made me decide to get more detectors, higher quality and live with their over-sensitivity. ....
That's a pretty positive outcome from this tragedy and our discussion of it, regardless of what is determined to be the cause. It's killing me that there is so much confusion over what type of detector to buy. I'm just going to add one to each sleeping cabin and figure that out later.
 

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....One thing that has impressed me with this website is that there are a number of people on here that are sticklers for factual evidence.......
Absolutely, as there has been ample spreading of rumor, old wives tales, bad answers, or even just disagreement. It's the internet, after all. I've learned to verify everything. I've always said that anything I post should be verified too.

However, I think the very nature of an immersed topic, such as a sailing forum, will always have keen interest in specific rules and practices. Seems to be the nature of many people who would spend time on such focused subject matter in the first place. This place is like meeting folks at the pub, but the rules at the door are that you can only discuss sailing. Think of the type of patron that would go to a pub like that.

Literally, the first thing said about this accident was that there was only one exit, from the bunkroom. That was quickly proven less than accurate. There were two, one was pretty small and both led to a place that required the same path be taken out. It set the tone for a more precise understanding of what the problem really was.
 

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....The number of passengers must be the tipping point. On our boats we overnight at anchor with 2 or 3 guests max and have a crew of you. Cant and dont need a roving human for that. But for 35 passengers and 5 crew? Yes, there needs to be someone awake and on the move the whole time.....
This must be the distinction, but I'm still struggling with articulating why. Why does someone need to be awake to more quickly identify and fight the fire, when more people are aboard, but 2 people are on their own.

Ironically, on our small boats, a fire watch is much more likely to actually be near the smoldering fire, before it becomes a problem. On a mega yacht, they could be decks away, even if they are properly roving.

It still doesn't seem to have really good defined logic quite yet. But I agree, the number of people seems to be the tipping point.
 

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My sense is that there are several issues...

Alerting passengers and crew to an emergency... fire in this case...means loud alarms

Alerting to them to what the emergency is and where it is another concern.

Having procedures for to escape danger may mean abandoning ship. Complicated for sure.

Mitigating the emergency for fire means fire suppression... mere alarms will not stop a runaway disaster.

Escape to where? Over the side? Into a life boat?

++++

The recreational boater needs to have fire suppression equipment... extinguishers for sure... and maybe a high volume sea water pump?? Automated emergency call to coast guard?

But if something go runaway... escape needs to be planned and routes provided. Drills and emergency lighting?

With so much flammable material in many boats... fire suppression systems apparently need to be more robust. Portable and automatic fixed extinguishers???
 

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On @midwesterner 's point... the crew on a commercial operation must have their STCW95 (or whatever its called this week)... and thats firefighting! So these crew are trained for it. and if they are not good enough they must be retrained.

Mark
After looking at Truth Aquatics website (https://www.truthaquatics.com/about/), there may be a question whether the crew had their STCW95 (see excerpt below in italics). From reading various news articles, it appears that the crew member who perished in this tragedy previously worked in the movie industry and became a deckhand recently, for example. The preliminary report by the NTSB (it is preliminary, of course) is not helpful relative to this fact. I may also be confusing the STCW95 with "licensing". That is, is someone with a STCW95 still considered "unlicensed" because licensed refers to a master or mate's license?

Conception is regulated by Subchapter T of Coast Guard regulations. Reading through Subchapter T, 46 CFR 185.420 requires crew training. So even if a STCW95 was not required for a deckhand on Conception, the regulations do require fire training. However, per the reg, each crew member shall be instructed "upon first being employed and prior to getting underway for the first time on a particular vessel and at least once every three months." Whether that is adequate is a question.

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrie...e&n=pt46.7.185&r=PART&ty=HTML#se46.7.185_1524

Regulations 185.510, 185.512, and 185.514 describe the emergency procedures to be covered by the training. These regulations require the assignment of duties in an emergency and an understanding of extinguishing fires, but it doesn't appear to me that these regs require that crew members actually practice putting out a real fire, which one of the earlier posters believed was very valuable to know. Whether that would have made any difference with Conception is another question. My point is that it doesn't appear that the fire training required to be a crew member is as much as a STCW95, which has a 2-day class.

The preliminary report also does not discuss the night dive and the crew member who checked that every thing was OK in the galley as of 2:35 am before going to sleep. Several folks on the this thread have questioned whether passengers heard a smoke alarm. Would passengers have been awake in the galley as late as 2:30? Does anyone have an idea when night dives generally end?

Our main criterion is that you are friendly and courteous, the rest we feel you can learn. As a non-licensed crew you can accumulate sea time and eventually sit for your master or mate’s license at the United States Coast Guard. Learning seamanship is something that every crew member has had the chance to do with Truth Aquatics and many have moved on to successful careers in the maritime industry.
 

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A few comments...

My Catalina 34 MkII has a number of improvements that were made later in the production run. One of the best improvements (because it's virtually impossible to retrofit) is an escape hatch in the aft berth. It's a nice size, and installed in a place that's very easy to access. So in addition to the companionway, I have big enough hatches to escape from the V-berth (easy exit), aft berth (easy exit) and main salon (need to stand on the galley counter, but doable).

I am very concerned about smoke detector selection. A couple of years ago I replaced all the smoke detectors in my home. I didn't want to re-wire all the electrical harnesses, so I just went for the closest current model to what I already had with no thought to what type they were. I now know that they are all ionization type, and am now hearing bad things about poor response to the most common smoldering fires. But the similar photoelectric detector (uses the same harnesses) has HORRIBLE reviews for false alarms. Comments seem to indicate false alarms are worse in places with temperature and humidity extremes, which does not bode well for marine environments. More research to do.

Regarding false alarms, there are different types with different danger levels. The type a couple of you mentioned, where it goes off while you are cooking, is merely a nuisance. You're awake, your boat is lit so you can see, and you're 99% certain that it's just the food that's cooking. The much more dangerous type, which I have experienced, is the one that happens in the middle of the night. You're awakened from sleep, the house/boat is dark, and if the detectors are interconnected than they're all going off so you don't even know where to start. I experienced that happening in my house, and it scares the crap out of you. What's worse, it happened a few days/nights in a row on a couple of different occasions. One time it was in my garage in the middle of a muggy late summer night (a few nights in a row), diagnosed as caused by humidity. The second time it was in my attic during a heat wave, diagnosed as excessive heat. The solution in both cases was to remove the smoke detector and replace it with a heat detector.

The issue here is that smoke detectors tend to generate false alarms in environments with large temperature or humidity swings (i.e., boats). Couple that with the fact that many of us leave our boats in a slip for many days at a time, and this becomes a real issue that could quickly wear out our welcome with our dock neighbors and marina personnel (unless you leave your A/C on all the time when at the dock, which creates other problems).

I'm not going to let this paralyze me from doing something for my boat, but whatever I install, I will probably pull out the battery when I leave the boat until I've built up a lot of confidence that it will not have false alarms.

I'm still not sure what to do with my house. I'd rather have photoelectric detectors, but since I travel ~10 nights a month leaving my family alone, I don't want to get a model that is prone to false alarms.

More research needed.
 
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