Backgrounders

Background and Fact Sheet 1: Safety Action Taken

Marine Investigation Report M03N0050
Fire on Vehicle Deck of the Ro-Ro Passenger Ferry
Joseph and Clara Smallwood
8 Nautical Miles South of Port aux Basques,
Newfoundland and Labrador
May 12, 2003

As a result of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation, significant action has already been taken by appropriate stakeholders to make marine transportation safer in Canada.

Fire Detection and Communications

In August 2003, the TSB issued a Marine Safety Information (MSI) letter to Marine Atlantic and copied Transport Canada. The company and regulator were advised of the Board's observations regarding the shipboard fire detection system and problems with internal communications on the Joseph and Clara Smallwood.

Response

Transport Canada

  • In March 2004, Transport Canada issued a Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) that required the following:
    • direct radio communications between the bridge and fire party;
    • familiarization of crew with the alarm system and alternate communications mechanisms; and
    • labelling of manual pull stations with a time-delayed alarm as being equipped with such a feature.
  • Transport Canada also indicates that
    • provisions for two-way communication between the fire party are now contained in the proposed regulatory reform entitled Fire Detection and Extinguishing Equipment Regulations; and
    • special audits were conducted this past summer on Marine Atlantic's entire fleet to assess the crew's ability to respond to emergency situations.

Marine Atlantic

  • Marine Atlantic indicates that it has
    • revised its training manual to provide a description (including illustrations) of the fire detection system;
    • discussed the system with staff and posted the aforementioned description in various locations aboard its vessels;
    • installed booster systems to improve portable radio communications on three passenger ferries;
    • equipped watchmen with very high frequency (VHF) radios;
    • highlighted doors behind which internal telephones are located; and
    • provided additional megaphones.
  • Marine Atlantic also says that it is
    • obtaining new radios for the Passenger Service Department.

Positioning of Emergency Lights

In December 2003, the TSB issued an MSI to Transport Canada and copied Marine Atlantic and the Canadian Ferry Operators Association. They were advised of the Board's observations regarding the positioning of emergency lights.

Response

Transport Canada

Transport Canada indicates that

  • a working group has been struck to review current Transport Canada fire safety regulations. The issue of low-location lighting, emergency lighting and supplemental lighting are now included in the review.

Marine Atlantic

Marine Atlantic indicates that

  • low photoluminescent signage was installed at its vessels' exits.

Passengers Remaining in Vehicles

In December 2003, the TSB issued a Marine Safety Advisory (MSA) to Transport Canada and copied Marine Atlantic and the Canadian Ferry Operators Association. They were advised of the Board's observations regarding passengers remaining in their vehicles during ferry crossings.

Response

Transport Canada

Transport Canada indicates that it is

  • proposed new trucking rules will improve compliance among commercial drivers. The rules require that truckers prove that they have taken one mandatory 8-hour rest break during any given 24-hour period. Because truckers will need to provide receipts, the regulator says that the new rules will encourage them to take a ferry berth instead of sleeping in their vehicles; and
  • proposed Cargo Regulations will also contain provisions prohibiting passengers from staying in vehicles when carrying dangerous goods.

Marine Atlantic

Marine Atlantic indicates that it is

  • revising vehicle deck patrol procedures to better enforce its policy against passengers remaining in their vehicles during crossings; and
  • distributing these revised procedures to commercial drivers through the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

Passenger Safety - Adequacy of Crew Training

In January 2004, the TSB issued an MSA to Transport Canada and copied Marine Atlantic and the Canadian Ferry Operators Association. They were advised of the Board's observations regarding the adequacy of training for crew members responsible for passenger safety.

Response

Transport Canada

Transport Canada indicates that

  • a Ship Safety Bulletin will be issued regarding training for crew responsible for passenger safety and crowd control;
  • a passenger safety management training course, currently mandatory only for Convention vessels (that is, those subject to international regulations), will also be required for domestic passenger ferries;
  • an advanced passenger safety management training course will also be mandatory for ro-ro ship personnel; and
  • in both cases, individual certification will be conditional upon successful completion of the aforementioned courses.

Marine Atlantic

Marine Atlantic indicates that it has

  • developed a crowd control training program currently being offered to appropriate personnel; and
  • developed a training package for marine evacuation with the Marine Institute in Newfoundland. A component of the new training addresses crowd control.

Vehicle Deck Fire Hoses

Marine Atlantic

Marine Atlantic indicates that it is

  • in the process of converting passenger vessels' vehicle deck fire hoses to fire hoses of one and a half inches.

The public report and other related documents are available on this site.

Report number M03N0050
Communiqué
Background and Fact Sheet 2: Safety Concerns
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