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CO and Fire alarms for liveaboards (was Fire on safari boat Suzana in Egypt)

Discussion in 'Liveaboards and Charter Boats' started by PhilC, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. rsingler

    rsingler Scuba Instructor, Tinkerer in Brass Staff Member ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Napa, California
    That's what I get for trusting 4 1/2 stars on the site I pictured..

    Well, you get the idea. Battery powered dual function photoelectric smoke plus CO alarms are out there and reasonably priced.
    chillyinCanada, Jay and DavidFL like this.
  2. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    I have a couple like that at home.
  3. Anthias

    Anthias Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: SF Bay area
    I'm coming to this thread late and now it has been moved, but I'd like to add some information. First, my deepest sympathies to all; to the divers that were on the boat and went through such a horrible experience, and the crew and owners of the Red Sea Aggressor, going through their own nightmare, whether they are responsible or not.

    I had a group on the Red Sea Aggressor I six weeks ago. We were on the boat for 2 weeks and had a wonderful time.

    I had just gotten off the Vision, the sister ship of the Conception, just a couple of days before she burned. We would have normally been on the Conception, but scheduling didn't work out. We know the crew and owner of the Conception well, so when we heard about it while we were in Cairo, we learned as much as we could. We were devastated, for everyone concerned, as we had nothing but respect and confidence in Glen and the crew of the Conception and know they all were in agony over the loss of so many people on their boat.

    So when we got on the Aggressor, just two days later, what had happened on the Conception was VERY MUCH on our minds. So I want to make it very clear. The crew, including the boat hosts, dive guides, the stewards, and deck hands all knew about the Conception because we all talked about it. At the safety briefing, I specifically asked about the three things and I said I was asking because of the Conception fire. I asked about the three same questions that were swirling about with the Conception. Where was the escape hatch for the lower deck. They'd already told us, but we went over it again. Were there fire alarms? Yes, and they had just been serviced. Was there a night watchman? At all times. I was very clear we were all very upset by the Conception tragedy and we wanted to be sure. So yes, the crew most definitely knew about the Conception. Sorry I didn't write this list earlier.

    So, the escape hatch on the lower deck is in a cabin. It was most definitely was there before the Conception fire, so that is a total rumor. Two group members tried it and it wasn't great. It exits into the crew cabin on the main deck, so when they tried it, a bag or something was on top of it. Knowing how hard the escape hatch was on the Conception (it was all up to code and compliant with all regulations), the one on the Red Sea Aggressor was definitely better, but still not great. Obviously, for the folks on the Aggressor, it worked better for them than the one on the Conception.

    Did the fire alarms work? They said they had just been inspected. But from here on out, whenever I have a charter, I will be asking for confirmation of functioning fire alarms. Were there enough alarms to be effective? That I don't know, but I will be looking at that much more now. That is one of the problems with the Conception fire, from what I understand. On the Conception, I believe that on the lower deck, there was only one alarm in each aisle and it was halfway down the aisle; far away from the exit staircase. All up to regulations, but perhaps not effective enough to be triggered and wake people up in time to escape a fast moving boat fire.

    They said they had a night watchman. I didn't get up at night to see and really, how many of us do? Do you really look for them everywhere; in the engine room or the galley, all places off limits to passengers? So I won't jump to my own conclusions about that. But I had one group member who got ill (other reasons) and spent time in the salon trying to sleep, moving about, etc. He "usually saw the mechanic/engineer on watch". His words. So some other information to chew on.

    Was the boat in good repair? I'd say pretty much, yes. We did have a couple of things go wrong with our AC cutting out and a rather temperamental hot water system. But otherwise, the boat was fine and the crew was great. It's an Aggressor, a mid-priced boat, so not the top of the line for luxury or spaciousness. I've been on worse Aggressors and better. But the service could not be faulted.

    That ill group member ended up in the hospital, and I have to say that Ahmed, who is the manager of the Hurghada office for the Aggressor, not an owner, was a life send to me helping me with this man in the hospital. He visited him every single day and kept communications working for all of us. He also got Egypt Air to change his tickets for no fee to get him back to Cairo and home. The owner, David Home, contacted me almost every day and came and spoke with me in person about the care of this individual. Given my own personal experience with both these men in a very stressful situation, I read other reports and understand the stress and dismay that all are under.

    All this is way too close to me for comfort and has led to a lot of thought. I do feel that regulations - given the probable cause of the Conception fire from battery chargers, the difficulty of the 2nd escape hatch on almost all boats, the smoke alarm issues on both boats, and the very good chance that a night watchman had fallen asleep - need to be changed. That is going to be really hard to make happen. Making a better escape hatch could cause major redesign on most boats and the boat would lose a cabin. Are you willing to pay more for safety? So in the meantime, I think we all, as consumers, need to ask those questions every time we get on a boat. Where is the escape hatch and then go see it and try it. Take a few minutes and do it. Give them feedback if it's hard and make it realistic feedback. Ask about the smoke alarms and ask for them to be tested (if that is possible). At least it puts them on the spot and lets them know they better get it together. Ditto with the night watchman. Ask about it. Ask where you could find someone if you needed them. Ask the schedule of the nightwatchman or doing a walk about the boat. Again, you put them on notice. Don't just think about your dive gear and setting up your camera. Take the time to guard your own safety.

    The power we all have, as consumers, is immense, if we get together and do this. Be educated divers and ask questions. Fires on boats are bad and they spread fast. But there are things that should be there to protect us. We should ask questions ask about them and we need to know about them. We can push for change while regulations grind their way slowly to improving.
  4. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    What could possibly be impossible about that? Press the test button. Actually, I like to take my home alarms to the drive way and test them with smoldering cotton rope, but that would be impracticable every week on a boat of new customers.

    I'm taking my own CO & Smoke alarm on any overnight trip anywhere, batteries removed until I arrive. Cheap, easy, lightweight.
  5. John Bantin

    John Bantin Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: London
    There are different types and it's best to select the most appropriate:

    Ionisation: These are the cheapest and cost very little to purchase. They are very sensitive to small particles of smoke produced by fast flaming fires, such as paper and wood, and will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick. They are marginally less sensitive to slow burning and smouldering fires which give off larger quantities of smoke before flaming occurs. They can also be too over-sensitive near kitchens.

    Optical: These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke produced by slow-burning fires, such as smouldering foam-filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring. They are marginally less sensitive to fast flaming fires. Optical alarms can be installed near (not in) kitchens, as they are less likely than ionisation alarms to go off when toast is burned.

    Heat Alarms: They detect the increase in temperature from a fire and are insensitive to smoke. They can therefore be installed in kitchens. They only cover a relatively small area of a room, so potentially several heat alarms need to be installed in a large kitchen.

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