The City of Portland, Maine, received a final decision from the arbitrator concerning the accident involving the city’s Marine 1 fireboat on October 15, 2011. On that day, the fireboat hit an underwater object near Fort Gorges, shearing off a shaft and damaging a propeller and a rudder. It was the second accident since the boat was purchased in 2009, and caused $52,000 in damage.

As a result of the fireboat accident, the Fire Department made several changes to policies related to the operation of vessels within the Marine Division.

The decision concludes the disciplinary matter between the City of Portland and IAFF Local 740 representing the 2 members of the Marine Division who were responsible for the safe operation and navigation of the fireboat on that day. The arbitrator found that the incident was an accident and the ensuing damage was unintentional. The findings also state that Marine 1 should not have left the Destroyer Channel and, upon doing, so the pilot should have navigated around marked hazards in a safe manner. The Captain/Engineer should have alerted the pilot to marked hazards as lookout.

Both crewmembers failed in these responsibilities, thus warranting disciplinary suspensions imposed by the Portland Fire Department. However, citing the lack of clarity regarding staffing policies for the operation of Marine 1 (2 versus 3 crewmembers for certain runs) and the good employment history of Captain Christopher Goodall, his suspension was reduced by the arbitrator to 48 hours, or 6 days. For these same reasons, as well as the failure of Goodall to alert the pilot of the hazard, Pilot Joseph Murphy’s suspension was reduced to 12 hours (1.5 days).

As a result of the fireboat accident, the Fire Department made several changes to policies related to the operation of vessels within the Marine Division. These include restricting transport of civilian personnel and clear protocols for the use of a 3rd crewmember during certain runs. Additionally, last March an independent 3rd party, Marine Safety Consultants, Inc., concluded that “in our opinion, a candidate who successfully completes the requirements of all 3 positions within the Marine department should be adequately capable of operating either boat.”

Related Article:

Portland, ME, Firefighters Won’t Need Captain’s License (November, 2012)

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