A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to exempt old vessels that only operate within inland waterways from the fire-retardant materials requirement if the owners of such vessels make annual structural alterations to at least 10 percent of the areas of the vessels that are not constructed of fire-retardant materials and for other purposes.
Vote no! What a terrible idea. Any old boat or ship old enough to qualify for this exemption is likely in poor condition! If it catches fire it is more likely to sink and burn since it was not built with current safety rules in mind. Why would be ok for a boat to catch fire and possibly spill its fuel tanks into a inland river or other waterway? Terrible legislation. This could be interpreted to mean it is ok for an old barge full of oil to catch fire on the Mississippi river, sink, and dump all of the oil into the Mississippi. This is irresponsible.
I understand maintaining vessels, especially older ones, is not only time consuming, but expensive. However, cutting corners in safety should never be an option. We've seen this before and the devastating impacts of such. There are fire codes for a reason and must be followed.
I guess safety and profits are the issues here. No one wants fire (a real issue) on a boat. However, If I read this bill right, it does add some marginal safety regulations. Operators are faced with making annual structural changes every year till the boat is in compliance. In addition, they are subject to annual inspections by the DOT. And on top of that more government regulations are piled on. I don't know how many vessels are subject to this issue but it seems to me that it might be cheaper for operators to just buy a new vessel. This looks to me like our typical government answer to all problems. Don't take a stand, try to please everybody. Add regulations, add more work for the DOT, debate for weeks, months? And finally? Accomplish nothing! Please note this bill was initated in January 2017, it is now July 2017 and the House is just sitting on it. Enough said! Time to drain the swamp of both parties.
Inland-only vessels have a higher likelihood of causing fires to structures on or near those waterways, opposed to ocean-going vessels, where their safety issues are more internal. Why would we make it easier for a inland vessel to allow it's fire to spread to inland structures?