THE DELTA QUEEN SAFETY DEBATE

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug 17, 2007
“The committee’s chairman, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., opposes the exemption because he says the boat’s advanced age and wood construction present an unacceptable safety risk, according to spokeswoman Mary Kerr.

IS SAFETY REALLY THE ISSUE?
Majestic America Line and legislative supporters are working to educate Congressional leaders that concerns regarding the safety of the Delta Queen are unfounded due to the technology and staff training to provide effective prevention, detection, suppression, and evacuation methods. Most importantly, the boat is regularly inspected and certified for passenger operation by the United States Coast Guard. Here are some more specific safety details:
• Great Safety Record – The Delta Queen has safely operated for more than 80 years without a single loss of life or a serious fire incident. 
• Coast Guard Inspections – The United States Coast Guard (in charge of marine safety) inspects the Delta Queen quarterly (with frequent additional surprise inspections) and continues to issue the boat a Certificate of Inspection.
• Reduced Risk – Many portions of the vessel have been painted with intumescent (fire retardant) paint. Under Majestic America Line ownership and management, the amount of combustible material (“fire load”) has been reduced.
• Detection Systems – Two separate types of fire detection systems have been installed that will sense the presence of fire or smoke so that a response may be initiated immediately. 
• Suppression Systems – Two different types of fixed fire suppression systems have been installed to remotely extinguish a fire in either engineering or public hotel spaces. The installed sprinkler system is designed to extinguish a fire automatically without any manual human interface required and is in every stateroom.
• Watchmen hourly patrol every space of the boat throughout the night.
• Fire Crews – Trained fire crews are part of the onboard staff and are at the ready 24-hours a day.
• Emergency Drills – Passengers are drilled each cruise and the crew is drilled weekly.
• Easy Evacuation – In the event of emergency, almost every passenger room opens directly onto the outer deck. Interior rooms have an exit within about 25 feet. On deck are evacuation slides and inflatable emergency boats. The boat is never far from the banks of the river and can quickly and easily be pulled to shore.
• Passenger Notification – Current legislation requires that all prospective passengers are informed about the Delta Queen’s wooden superstructure and potential risks.
• Increasing Regulations and Training – Regulatory requirements for fire safety and firefighting training and drills for officers and crew have increased steadily. 
But there is so much more to this struggle. Check back for more on the Delta Queen’s struggles in the next post. A comprehensive overview soon will be posted HERE.

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