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T&T: Saving boats from marina fires


17-01-2011 09:17 PM
1


"We have been instructed to untie or cut loose any boats (non-burning) in
the fires path and push them out of the slips. This creates a fire
block by removing the fuel(boats) and creates a gap so the fire will be
limited to the boat(s) involved."

Yes, of course, BUT one needs to be assured the winds and current won't send the
freed boat into the inferno or that a tow vessel is standing by to "catch."

Rich Gano
CALYPSO (GB-42 #295)
Southport, FL (near Panama City)
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17-01-2011 09:31 PM
2


"We have been instructed to untie or cut loose any boats (non-burning) in
the fires path and push them out of the slips. This creates a fire block by
removing the fuel(boats) and creates a gap so the fire will be limited to
the boat(s) involved."

Yes, of course, BUT one needs to be assured the winds and current won't send
the freed boat into the inferno or that a tow vessel is standing by to
"catch."



Rich is indeed correct on this one.

Some of you may remember the deadly explosion and fire at the gas dock at
Green Turtle Bay a couple of years back. Someone please correct me if I'm
wrong here but Bill Gary Jr. nearly lost his life as well when the burning
boat was cut loose from the gas dock and began drifting towards another
dock. I believe he jumped in the push boat and shoved the burning boat
towards the rocks and nearly died doing so. The gas dock was engulfed and
now the fire fighters had two fires but were unable to reach the boat on the
rocks. It's hard to know what any of us would do. Just pray it's the right
thing.

Greg
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17-01-2011 09:55 PM
3


Before you simply cut someones boat loose, you will want to consider the
legal ramifications involved in doing so.

If you cut someones boat loose and send it out into the fairway where it
possibly strikes an unrelated third party boat, or puts other persons or
property in peril, or god forbid, heads in the direction of the inferno,
that opens up a tremendous opportunity for litigation.

My obligation is to prevent damage to my boat inasmuch as it does not
put myself or other persons or property in peril. A bystander has no
obligation whatsoever to go into harms way and can expose him or herself
to litigation if he/she just randomly decides to start cutting boats
loose with no ability to control the outcome of same.

I keep my boat insured for its value. If it catches fire and burns to
the waterline, so be it.

If a fire breaks out on a boat, I will call the fire department and
allow trained professionals to handle the situation. If my boat is
damaged, then my insurance company can break out their checkbook.
However, if you damage my boat while trying to play hero in order to get
your 30 seconds of fame, then you get to break out your checkbook as well.

Cheers,

Ryan




On 1/17/2011 3:31 PM, Greg Bowers wrote:
> "We have been instructed to untie or cut loose any boats (non-burning) in
> the fires path and push them out of the slips. This creates a fire block by
> removing the fuel(boats) and creates a gap so the fire will be limited to
> the boat(s) involved."
>
> Yes, of course, BUT one needs to be assured the winds and current won't send
> the freed boat into the inferno or that a tow vessel is standing by to
> "catch."
>
>
>
> Rich is indeed correct on this one.
>
> Some of you may remember the deadly explosion and fire at the gas dock at
> Green Turtle Bay a couple of years back. Someone please correct me if I'm
> wrong here but Bill Gary Jr. nearly lost his life as well when the burning
> boat was cut loose from the gas dock and began drifting towards another
> dock. I believe he jumped in the push boat and shoved the burning boat
> towards the rocks and nearly died doing so. The gas dock was engulfed and
> now the fire fighters had two fires but were unable to reach the boat on the
> rocks. It's hard to know what any of us would do. Just pray it's the right
> thing.
>
> Greg
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17-01-2011 11:32 PM
4


There were boats to include one USCG 24 foot boat which could have insured
that freed boats were pu{hed aground (soft mud) away from the fire. It is
the one thing I intend to ask the VFD. I suspect that fear of liability is
involved here. Rich is right in that the fire created its own wind which
could have sucked freed boats in. But the aluminum VFD and Sheriff's boats
could have entered the wide fairways and pushed them in the right direction.

Ron Rogers

On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 4:17 PM, Rich Gano <> wrote:

> Yes, of course, BUT one needs to be assured the winds and current won't
> send the
> freed boat into the inferno or that a tow vessel is standing by to "catch."
>
> Rich Gano
> CALYPSO (GB-42 #295)
> Southport, FL (near Panama City)
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18-01-2011 12:28 AM
5


I would expect the volunteer fire fighters to use their best judgement when
cutting boats loose. In doing so, also keep in mind that they are acting
under the Good Samaritan Law which protects them from liability (unless they
acted with purposeful neglect or disregard).

If they cut my boat loose and something subsequently happened to her, I
would expect my insurance comapny to still cover any damages, up to and
including, full replacement. They are trying to protect the boat(s),
possessions and lives, which is a requisite of my insurance policy.
On Jan 17, 2011 6:54 PM, "Ryan R. Healy" <>
wrote:
>
> Before you simply cut someones boat loose, you will want to consider the
legal ramifications involved in doing so.
>
> If you cut someones boat loose and send it out into the fairway where it
possibly strikes an unrelated third party boat, or puts other persons or
property in peril, or god forbid, heads in the direction of the inferno,
that opens up a tremendous opportunity for litigation.
>
> My obligation is to prevent damage to my boat inasmuch as it does not put
myself or other persons or property in peril. A bystander has no obligation
whatsoever to go into harms way and can expose him or herself to litigation
if he/she just randomly decides to start cutting boats loose with no ability
to control the outcome of same.
>
> I keep my boat insured for its value. If it catches fire and burns to the
waterline, so be it.
>
> If a fire breaks out on a boat, I will call the fire department and allow
trained professionals to handle the situation. If my boat is damaged, then
my insurance company can break out their checkbook. However, if you damage
my boat while trying to play hero in order to get your 30 seconds of fame,
then you get to break out your checkbook as well.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Ryan
>
>
>
>
>
> On 1/17/2011 3:31 PM, Greg Bowers wrote:
>>
>> "We have been instructed to untie or cut loose any boats (non-burning) in
>> the fires path and push them out of the slips. This creates a fire block
by
>> removing the fuel(boats) and creates a gap so the fire will be limited to
>> the boat(s) involved."
>>
>> Yes, of course, BUT one needs to be assured the winds and current won't
send
>> the freed boat into the inferno or that a tow vessel is standing by to
>> "catch."
>>
>>
>>
>> Rich is indeed correct on this one.
>>
>> Some of you may remember the deadly explosion and fire at the gas dock at
>> Green Turtle Bay a couple of years back. Someone please correct me if
I'm
>> wrong here but Bill Gary Jr. nearly lost his life as well when the
burning
>> boat was cut loose from the gas dock and began drifting towards another
>> dock. I believe he jumped in the push boat and shoved the burning boat
>> towards the rocks and nearly died doing so. The gas dock was engulfed
and
>> now the fire fighters had two fires but were unable to reach the boat on
the
>> rocks. It's hard to know what any of us would do. Just pray it's the
right
>> thing.
>>
>> Greg
>
> _______________________________________________
___________________________________________________

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18-01-2011 01:31 AM
6


You should probably re-read your policy Jeff. *You* are required to protect
your boat only to the extent that you are not placed into harms way. If you
cannot personally stay out of danger while protecting, then you walk away to
remain safe and the insurance company just bought themselves a boat. A third
party cutting lines and pushing the boat out into the fairway or wherever
would not be covered should your insurance company decide to go after them for
losses suffered.

As to the Good Samaritan Law, I would opine that you would have a hard time
substantiating just cause to cast off perfectly good vessels unless there was
an actual person or victim in imminent peril and their rescue could only be
effectuated by casting adjacent unaffected vessels out into the fairway.
Absent a live victim in imminent peril, it would be very hard to justify any
such action other than fighting of the fire on the affected boat.

Courts have held that certain actions of first responders have been reckless
and unnecessary if a live person was not in imminent peril.

You will recall the fire that occurred down at Green Turtle Bay a year or so
ago. It started with a single boat fire. Someone had the dumb idea to start
cutting boats loose resulting in a near tragedy with multiple boats on fire, a
few that the fire dept. couldn't even reach, several docks engulfed, plenty of
hull losses and personnel placed into unnecessary danger to contain the whole
mess.

Instead of haphazardly casting boats off in every direction, that time could
be much better spent fighting the fire that actually exists instead of placing
other peoples' lives and property in peril.

Next time you think about casting a boat off, remember, someones baby daughter
could be asleep in the cabin. A much better course of action would be to
board adjacent vessels and determine if any lives are in imminent peril. If
so, evacuate those people to a safe location, and if not, then fight the fire
that exists and let the insurance company deal with the hull losses.

-Ryan




----- Original Message -----
From: Jeff Hall
To: Ryan R. Healy
Cc: Trawlers and trawlering
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2011 6:28 PM
Subject: Re: T&T: Saving boats from marina fires


I would expect the volunteer fire fighters to use their best judgement when
cutting boats loose. In doing so, also keep in mind that they are acting under
the Good Samaritan Law which protects them from liability (unless they acted
with purposeful neglect or disregard).

If they cut my boat loose and something subsequently happened to her, I
would expect my insurance comapny to still cover any damages, up to and
including, full replacement. They are trying to protect the boat(s),
possessions and lives, which is a requisite of my insurance policy.
_______________________________________________
___________________________________________________

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18-01-2011 01:56 AM
7


The instructions to cut loose or push out boats from slips was the
instructions given to the dock captains at the Everett, WA marina, a
government marina. Yes, you have to consider where the loose boats will
go, but to stand by and let a fire run the length of a covered moorage
ensures the loss of many boats. I would rather have someone push my
boat out of the slip and have it go aground or drift into another boat
than to have that person freeze in fear of a lawsuit, do nothing, and
have my boat be a total loss.

Of course every situation is different, and good Samaritans are
protected in WA and other states, if they act AS A REASONABLE PERSON
WOULD ACT IN THAT SITUATION. If you are the kind of person who would
jump in to help others, it would be wise to find out what your states
good Samaritan law is (if any).

Larry H
_______________________________________________
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18-01-2011 02:25 AM
8


Ryan, thanks for the well thought out discussion. Obviously every situation
is different and circumstances in emergencies change instantaneously. You
are correct in that saving human lives is the first and foremost
initiative. My comment wasn't to insinuate that anyone haphazardly start
setting boats adrift without due regard for personal safety or to add to the
mayhem already at hand.

Having spent many years as a volunteer paramedic, I understand the creed of
saving lives first very well.

That said, if a firefighter decides in his/her opinion that it's the
public's best interest (safety) to cut my boat loose (after determining that
no lives are aboard), I would expect my insurance company to honor any
claim. I may be wrong in this opinion, but I would defend it vigorously.
On Jan 17, 2011 8:31 PM, "Ryan R. Healy" <>
wrote:
>
> You should probably re-read your policy Jeff. *You* are required to
protect your boat only to the extent that you are not placed into harms
way. If you cannot personally stay out of danger while protecting, then you
walk away to remain safe and the insurance company just bought themselves a
boat. A third party cutting lines and pushing the boat out into the fairway
or wherever would not be covered should your insurance company decide to go
after them for losses suffered.
>
> As to the Good Samaritan Law, I would opine that you would have a hard
time substantiating just cause to cast off perfectly good vessels unless
there was an actual person or victim in imminent peril and their rescue
could only be effectuated by casting adjacent unaffected vessels out into
the fairway. Absent a live victim in imminent peril, it would be very hard
to justify any such action other than fighting of the fire on the affected
boat.
>
> Courts have held that certain actions of first responders have been
reckless and unnecessary if a live person was not in imminent peril.
>
> You will recall the fire that occurred down at Green Turtle Bay a year or
so ago. It started with a single boat fire. Someone had the dumb idea to
start cutting boats loose resulting in a near tragedy with multiple boats on
fire, a few that the fire dept. couldn't even reach, several docks engulfed,
plenty of hull losses and personnel placed into unnecessary danger to
contain the whole mess.
>
> Instead of haphazardly casting boats off in every direction, that time
could be much better spent fighting the fire that actually exists instead of
placing other peoples' lives and property in peril.
>
> Next time you think about casting a boat off, remember, someones baby
daughter could be asleep in the cabin. A much better course of action would
be to board adjacent vessels and determine if any lives are in imminent
peril. If so, evacuate those people to a safe location, and if not, then
fight the fire that exists and let the insurance company deal with the hull
losses.
>
> -Ryan
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
>>
>> From: Jeff Hall
>> To: Ryan R. Healy
>> Cc: Trawlers and trawlering
>> Sent: Monday, January 17, 2011 6:28 PM
>> Subject: Re: T&T: Saving boats from marina fires
>>
>> I would expect the volunteer fire fighters to use their best judgement
when cutting boats loose. In doing so, also keep in mind that they are
acting under the Good Samaritan Law which protects them from liability
(unless they acted with purposeful neglect or disregard).
>>
>> If they cut my boat loose and something subsequently happened to her, I
would expect my insurance comapny to still cover any damages, up to and
including, full replacement. They are trying to protect the boat(s),
possessions and lives, which is a requisite of my insurance policy.
_______________________________________________
___________________________________________________

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18-01-2011 10:26 PM
9


"However, if you damage my boat while trying to play hero in order to get
your 30 seconds of fame, then you get to break out your checkbook as well."

OK, you hit my hot button(s). Maybe my opposition to people who leave "fully
insured" vessels to their fate in the face of approaching hurricanes down here
(running insurance rates through the overhead) is bleeding over into this
discussion, but I'm darned if I will not at least consider trying to save any
vessel in danger under any condition. If my "not-fully-insured" vessel is ever
lost, I am out of boating forever; so I am careful with it and plan to fight
hard to keep it safe against fire, storm, etc. I would never want the local
boating community to think I would come after somebody honestly trying to help
me, I WANT that guy who would push my boat clear of a fire to try. Yes, I also
want him to be a bit rational about it.

I only have liability insurance because insuring a wooden-hulled boat is nigh
unto impossible anymore; so if I am present when "fire" is called out in a
marina (unlikely anymore since I moor at home), the next thing you will hear is
my engines starting. However, I would most definitely want my boat to have a
chance if I were not present. If aboard, I will not be hanging around to cut
other folk's boat loose even if the fire is not on my pier because fires
spread - spread sometimes aided by drifting burning boats. Burning boats can be
set adrift via burned-through dock lines too, you know. If a neighbor boat was
between me and the fire and not aflame, I'd consider freeing it and towing it
out with me. I am a former tug captain, but even novices can help this way if
they just think about it for a minute or two.

Were I able to maneuver in the fairway, I'd gladly push-pull un-burning drifters
clear, but without a good deckhand, I'd most likely just get out.

As somebody said, every situation is different. So were I to find myself at a
marina fire without my boat, (VERY UNLIKELY) I would try to help form a fire
break by moving currently safe vessels clear after a quick but professional (I
am, after all, a maritime professional :)) evaluation of the environment. I
would have to be just about 100% certain in my own mind that the boat I was
about to move (NOTE: the word "move" NOT set free) would not be drawn fire-ward,
and I would remain aboard using lines and pilings to continue to move it to
safety (if I couldn't find a way to start it) because just pushing it out of its
slip sounds like a BAD idea (so the baby (who in H-E-double heck leaves one
aboard???!!) comes with me). AND, remember, this is not something I would
likely try alone.

As to fighting the fire, unless there was a full-fledged fire hose at hand,
that's a really bad idea, which probably takes time away from forming a fire
break anyway.

In conclusion, conditions would have to be right for individuals to be of any
help, and the more individuals you can quickly organize, the more conditions
favor some action in the very early stages. After that, it's time to cry while
the pros go to work, but at least consider helping.

Sadly, liveaboards are discouraged in many marinas, but they are the ones who
are often the only people around when fires occur and who also note many
potential problems to management (I don't for a second agree they are more often
the cause of fires).

As an aside, I think if I were a marina manager, I'd regularly gather all the
renters together and have a brain-storming session about fire prevention and
what to do if one were to break out. Never saw it done in the marinas where I
have kept my boat.

Rich Gano
CALYPSO (GB-42 #295)
Southport, FL (near Panama City)
_______________________________________________
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18-01-2011 11:25 PM
10


Major storms and hurricanes bearing down on a crowded mooring field may not
have the urgency and personal risk associated with a marina fire, but you will
witness plenty of "good samaritan" action in my town harbor on such extreme
weather occasions.

Even with well-forecast heavy weather there is always last-mintue desperate
hauling, stripping sails, setting extra lines, etc. During and after the storm
many players are involved in snagging boats adrift, bailing, refloating and
all sorts of recovery tasks. Usually the owner is present, often not, but the
Harbormaster, his staff, the very capable commercial fishermen and just
citizens do what is needed to minimize loss. The 24 hours before and after a
named storm brings out the best of our waterfront.

Gene Ali
Downeast 38'
Duxbury, MA
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