According to Cruise Ship Report, lead British agency investigating the March 2006 Star Princess blaze has urged cruise lines to take action to prevent fires from starting on balconies of cruse ships. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) on April 26 said the fire erupted on the balcony of a cabin on deck 10 of the Star Princess and spread within 10 minutes to three decks, ultimately damaging more than 280 cabins. The agency said current safety regulations do not take into account the enormous increase in balconies on cruise ships built over the past decade. The agency recommended that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) extend fire-prevention regulations covering the interior of cruise ships to balconies and other exterior areas.
However, the investigation has already identified serious shortcomings in fire protection on ships' balconies which require urgent attention. The MAIB and its partners, therefore, have worked with the cruise industry world-wide to ensure that short-term measures are immediately put in place to safeguard passengers. These include
- increased vigilance on vessels with balconies, with consideration given to dedicated lookouts and additional fire patrols;
- a review of crew onboard training and response;
- advice to passengers and crew.
The industry has also agreed to implement medium-term structural measures as soon as practical.
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