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February 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 35, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Conception had been Exempted from USCG Fire Safety Standards

from the February, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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U.S. Coast Guard records show that 11 boats classified solely for diving -- including eight in California -- were given special exemption from 1996 safety standards, which were developed after fires and other accidents had killed dozens during the previous 30 years. The 'grandfathering provision' meant that these boats -- the Conception included -- did not have to make required changes, which included adding larger escape hatches.

The Coast Guard's oversight has come under scrutiny following FBI agents' search of the Truth dive boat, sister vessel, the Conception, the dive boat that burned and sank, killing 34 people during the early hours of September 2. Not everyone in the industry agrees that sweeping regulations are needed (some believe it will impinge on profitability or even the viability of modernizing older vessels), but legislation introduced in Congress in December would require vessels to have at least two separate escape exits, strengthen standards for fire alarm systems, and create mandatory safety rules for the handling and storage of electronic devices with lithium-ion batteries....

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