David Fletcher requests help from members for some new research.

Last time, I talked about the new BSS requirements for carbon monoxide alarms and the issues with ventilation. I explained that there is a good deal that we do not understand about ventilation and air changes in boat cabins.

A major new study is planned for boaters in London, looking at CO levels, particularly the low levels that come from sources such as gas cooking or wind-carried exhausts from adjacent boats. CO measuring and logging devices will be placed in many boats, so that both high and low levels of CO can be detected. The study is to find out the extent of these low levels, typically 1-10ppm, whereas alarms go off at 50ppm. The data-loggers are simple, battery operated devices that plug into a usb port on a laptop, and can be interrogated with special software. The recording device will produce a graph of the readings over time, showing the extent and frequency of spikes, but of course it doesn’t show or record where the spike comes from. This second part is much more problematic; to relate peaks or high levels to actual events or causes.

The silent killer

Carbon monoxide latest

It's not just for exam day, it saves lives says BSS representative David Fletcher

The requirement for a CO alarm in all boats with ac­commodation became a BSS requirement in April. This applies to all boats immedi­ately, even if your examination was as late as March and you will not be checked for another four years. The BSS office tells us that the examina­tions taking place since April are recording less than 10% failures on CO alarm requirements. This is a re­ally good result when the estimates were that perhaps a third of boats did not have them.

Boat fires

The annual BSS incident report was published in March and provides a summary of the incidents over the last year. A total of 132 boat incidents, based on 124 events, were recorded up until February 2019. In three events, fire affected more than one boat. There were 54 fires and CO incidents on inland waterways, which is the lowest number for three years. In 18 of the reported incidents, the cause is unknown or inconclusive. In 24 of the 54 fire and CO incidents, the boat was used for residential or extended use, but this may be an underestimate as, in a further seven fire/CO incidents, the ‘use class’ is not known. There were three boat fire fatalities, all liveaboards; the highest number in one year since 2012. All victims lived alone on their boats and alcohol consumption was confirmed as a significant factor in two of the incidents. None of the boats is thought to have had a smoke alarm on board.

Welfare guidance

CRT’s welfare guidance is a support service intended for Trust staff and volunteers who have concerns about the welfare of boaters. If you come across a boater who you feel needs assistance, the following information may be useful. The guidance ensures that the Trust signposts them to the most appropriate agencies that can provide support services. It is being implemented in conjunction with CRT’s Equality Policy to promote equality for people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 20101.

From 1 April at least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm became a requirement on nearly all private and non-private boats in scope of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) Requirements. BSS Certifications will not be issued to boats without alarms. The new BSS Requirements apply to boats with accommodation spaces i.e. areas within a boat surrounded by permanent boat structure and where carbon monoxide gas may accumulate.

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