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Dock fire in Alabama

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by chesapeake46, Jan 27, 2020.

  1. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    At least 8 dead and could be more. Lots of houseboats, old wooden docks, covered with no openings, a lot of liveaboards in cold weather. We don't know the cause but easy to see the potential and to see why it spread so fast.
  3. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    I've been under many a covered slip in my time. Some right at the bulkhead parallel to shore ; and some jutting out on the water with only one way in and out like the Alabama Fire.
    Yes it's easy to see how this became so horrific .

    Chesapeake46 ; think about Worton creek sheds or Tollchester or Piney knarrows...etc one in and one way out. Unfortunately lots of Covered slips are built this way and made of seasoned dry wood.
  4. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Prayers and tears is all I can offer from this earth.
    When we can, we will be together on a higher forum. Prayers, tears and support need to go to the survivors and families of.
  5. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    Yes, some of those sheds are really like tinder boxes......
  6. bayoubud

    bayoubud Senior Member

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    Never considered how ineffective fire alarms and smoke detectors are when the fire begins outside the boat at the dock. Terrible tragedy.
  7. Oscarvan

    Oscarvan Senior Member

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    Those sheds are exactly what I had in mind when I get my boat in the next few years. Memo to self: Have the dink ready to go at all times.
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Dinghy would have been of no use in this fire. Lucky if you even knew there was a fire and had a chance to jump in the water.
  9. Oscarvan

    Oscarvan Senior Member

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    So crawl up in the rafters and stick a few battery powered smoke detectors to the poles? I mean, if you know the danger you have to try and mitigate it.
  10. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    You got that right OB.
  11. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Cold freaking water. Some could not last 10 minutes. Two bodies were removed from the water but no COD was released yet.
    We all have axes and know how to kick boats off the docks in a hurry. When we lived at ORBY and Huckins, old wood covers were always a concern, Staff and residents talked and walked thru rehearsals a couple times a year.
  12. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    One flame captured under that roof, a smoke detector may melt before it peeps.
    You can see in that video the flames still under the roof BBQing everything with many times the normal heat of a vertical fire and traveling faster than we can run. The A shape of the roof made it much more horrible and faster to move up/down the dock length.

    Holly Wood can not capture the horror of a tunneled super flame traveling under a roof at you.

    Tragic
  13. GhostriderIII

    GhostriderIII Senior Member

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    Better to employ a fire fighting nozzle and be ready to back out in a hurry. I was in Seattle when the antique boat dock burned.
  14. Kapn

    Kapn Member

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    They'd be yanked down the first day of spring as soon as someone warms up their Detroit and everyone complains of the constant beeping.

    I lived on a houseboat on a lake 20+ years ago, used a propane heater that winter and didn't know a thing about fire prevention or carbon monoxide. I guess I got lucky, these people not so much. Such a tragic event.
  15. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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  16. GhostriderIII

    GhostriderIII Senior Member

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    This dock is/was owned by Jackson county and should have met certain fire standards. They will assume the liability and any criminal charges laid against them.
  17. Bishop6042

    Bishop6042 New Member

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    I used to draw dock systems many years ago, including the large covered slip ones. Another thing to look for is whether they used fiberglass or metal panels through out. We always speced metal, but would include a fiberglass / plastic one very 16' or so, that collapses quickly to vent the structure. If you are checking out a new slip, look for the occasional lighter panels to see if they are using this system. Now I have not kept up on dock codes, so this might be out of date, but at least something to look out for on docks maybe 15 to 25 years old.

    Just did a little research. The system still is used, but seems to be a higher a end application. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  18. GhostriderIII

    GhostriderIII Senior Member

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    Before a dock is built, the Tennessee Valley Authority has to give it its stamp of approval through a 26a permit. According to the TVA website, it has authority over construction aspects like the size of the dock - where it is placed and how it connects to the shore.
    TVA does no* regulate fire safety plans.
    Neither does the State Fire Marshal's office. A spokesperson confirmed that they do not inspect docks as a general rule, but they will upon request or if they receive a complaint.
    According to Jackson County Park's marina policy, there are to be "No open flame grills or cookers on the marina docks. They must be kept on boats." Unfortunately this was not the case.

    It also says boaters must keep $300,000 worth of liability insurance and that the "lessee agrees that Jackson County is not responsible for any damages to personal property.".
    Seems to be a complete lack of oversight.

    The Alabama Department of Environmental Management does require reporting and inspections for fuel tank leaks. A leak could create multiple problems including a fire hazard if one was present.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    However, the TVA would not approve a dock like that one being built today as they have changed requirements over the years.