Coast Guard inspectors to look closely at lithium-ion batteries after Conception dive boat fire

Local news

After federal investigators pointed to the charging of lithium-ion batteries as a possible cause of the fire that killed 34 people aboard the Conception dive boat, the U.S. Coast Guard is now directing its inspectors to look more closely at how the batteries are used, charged and stored aboard small vessels.

According to a policy letter issued on Oct. 30, Coast Guard inspectors should look for potentially hazardous conditions such as batteries not being stored in cool, dry places away from combustible material, or batteries being charged using multiple extension cords, also known as daisy chains. Inspectors also should verify that crew members know how to extinguish small lithium-ion battery fires.

The letter follows a notice that the Coast Guard sent to boat owners in the wake of the Conception fire on Labor Day 2019 that warned of the dangers of lithium-ion batteries. And it comes weeks after the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the fire aboard the Conception began in the back of a middle deck salon where lithium-ion batteries were being charged.

The board did not determine whether it was the batteries, the boat’s electrical system or an unattended fire source that ignited the blaze. A member of the crew did recall seeing sparks when plugging in his cell phone before going to bed hours before the fire.

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