Charleston Fire Department reviews policy following April fire b - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Charleston Fire Department reviews policy following April fire boat crash

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Minimal training aboard the vessel, an unsafe speed, no lookout on the boat and a lack of equipment proficiency. All of these factors were detailed in the investigation report that the Coast Guard prepared for the Charleston Fire Department in regards to the crash of their fire boat in April. The crash has been deemed a result of a "chain of human errors".

In a press conference Friday, Fire Chief Karen Brack reviewed the findings of the accident by the investigating Coast Guard. She explained that basically, the personnel on board was more focused on getting to the emergency, than getting there safely. "One of the things I think is very apparent here is we had a lack of situational awareness. People were given an order and they started thinking about that order instead of thinking about getting from point A to point B."

To be appointed to the Fire Department's marine division, the requirements previously were, you had to have an Uninspected Passenger Vessel Operator license, the completion of a 40 hour class on the operations of a boat and participation in tours for waterway familiarization. That training appearing minimal compared to the revamped requirements now being instituted in the wake of the crash and investigation.

Charleston Fire Department now mirroring many of the protocols used by the Coast Guard, even shadowing USCG personnel on boat. Brack says,"Any relationship that we can learn from, that we can grow and learn from is beneficial. I hope we always look at it like that. This is an opportunity for us to grow and learn, and we get to learn from the experts."

The training has already begun as the Charleston Fire Department works to improve their marine team. In the meantime, the firefighters will stay on land. "It will be awhile before that rotation training has ended. It will be about two months after we get some things in place, before the boat goes back in service."

There are currently 42 firefighters on the marine team, working in shifts while also being assigned to regular engines throughout the city. It was found during the investigation that the crew that night had limited experience in working together previously.

When asked about any personnel repercussions, Chief Brack said she will be reviewing the reports and performing her own interviews to determine if any disciplinary action will take place.

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