#MCIB - The absence of a smoke detection system meant there was no chance for the two-man crew of a Waterford fishing boat to extinguish a fire that engulfed its engine room in an incident off Dunmore East in November 2012.
And marine investigators have urged the Minister for Transport to make such systems a mandatory requirement for all small fishing vessels, according to their official report on the FV Kingfisher.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the skipper and crew of the Kingfisher were rescued on the morning of 25 November 2012 after abandoning the vessel to a liferaft.
The Kingfisher had been pair trawling for herring some five miles off Dunmore East with partner vessel FV Mystical Rose when the skipper noticed smoke coming from the exhaust pipe housing on deck.
On opening the engine room hatch, the wheelhouse was quickly engulfed in thick acrid smoke - indicating an oil-based fire - that prevented skipper or crew from making any attempt to put out the fire or even raise the alarm by VHF radio.
Both men on board were retrieved from their liferaft by the Mystical Rose as the Dunmore East lifeboat attempted to extinguish the blaze, with assistance by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, but to no avail.
In its report, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) determined that the fire was likely too far advanced at the point of discovery to be suppressed by the vessel's sprinkler system or any other means at hand.
The report also noted, importantly, that smoke detection systems are not mandatory for vessels of the Kingfisher's size (less than 15 metres), nor are such boats' bulkheads, deckheads or piping stems required to have any fire-resistant properties.
The MCIB has recommended that the Minister for Transport amend the current Code of Practice for the Design, Construction and Equipment of Small Fishing Vessels of less than 15m Length overall. The full report is available to download below.