Coast Guard clarifies rules on fire detection systems

The U.S. Coast Guard has published an interim rule to implement the Congressionally-mandated requirements to assure fire safety on “covered small passenger vessels” (CSPVs) as defined by 46 U.S.C. 3306(n). 

The legislature had adopted the statutory ruling in response to the fire and loss of 34 lives onboard the 75-foot dive boat Conception off the California coast on Sept. 2, 2019.

Recently, though, the Coast Guard has identified a need to clarify the reference in 46 CFR 175.110(c) with respect to fire detection systems.

The text of 46 CFR 175.110(c) “erroneously omitted the specific paragraph of §181.405 intended to apply to CSPVs and may lead the reader to believe that CSPVs are subject to all of the requirements in 46 CFR 181.405,” the Coast Guard said.

The intention of the applicability statement in 46 CFR 175.110(c) “is for CSPV to comply with 181.405(c) regarding interconnected fire detection equipment, and not the entire section” while the preamble of the interim rule “specifically discusses adding 181.405(c) requirements for interconnected fire detection requirements on CSPVs.” 

The Coast Guard said that it “did not indicate we wanted the other paragraphs in this section to apply to CSPVs, if they did not already apply under existing regulations.”

Section 181.405(c) requires that “vessels described by 46 CFR 175.110(c) must have an interconnected fire detection system in compliance with § 181.450 installed in all enclosed areas where passengers and crew have routine access, including accommodation spaces and machinery spaces,” the Coast Guard said.