Sunken White Island tour boat should have had fire alarms

A report of a White Island Tours boat fire that forced 60 people overboard says smoke detectors and a proper firefighting system could have helped.

The report reiterates its calls for Maritime New Zealand to make fire alarms mandatory.

The Pee Jay 5 was returning from White Island in January 2017 when the fire broke out.

All 53 passengers and seven crew were forced to jump overboard, many without life jackets, as the ship was consumed by flames and sank.

Australian tourist Brendan Paterson was among those on board with his two sons.

“I spent most of the year having nightmares and difficulty sleeping, lots of nightmares about heavy smoke and that sort of thing,” he said.

Two years later, a report from the Transportation Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) revealed that there was no on-board fire alarm and the fire-fighting system was faulty. good type for this case.

Maritime rules do not require the use of fire alarms on boats.

“Fire is a high risk in ships and the probability of it occurring is quite [high] in vessels of this size,” said TAIC Chief Investigator Tim Burford.

“It is fundamental that the crew are alerted as soon as possible before a fire takes hold – that way they have a better chance of putting it out before it gets too big and/or that they can start getting people off the ship much sooner.”

Mr. Paterson was surprised by the lack of regulation regarding fire alarms.

“I found that a bit surprising – I just thought it would have been mandatory,” he said.

White Island Tours has since been acquired by Ngati Awa Group Holdings.

He did not want to appear on camera today but said the report confirmed he met all Maritime New Zealand requirements and would continue to do so.

The Commission is renewing its calls on Maritime NZ to change the rules.

“We currently have work in progress to review rules relating to vessel design, construction and equipment carried and that will be covered in this review,” Keith Manch, director of Maritime NZ told Newshub.

Although the report provides some closure, the cause of the fire will never be known as the boat burned and sank without leaving any evidence.