MAIB releases report on fatal collision between two rescue boats in River Cleddau, Wales

Photo: MAIB

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report on its investigation into a collision between two Welsh fire and rescue boats that had led to the death of one individual.

At about 11:25 local time on September 17, 2019, two fire and rescue service boats collided while undertaking boat training and familiarisation on the River Cleddau near Milford Haven, Wales.

One of the firefighters who was taking part in the training sustained fatal injuries from the collision.

The MAIB said the collision occurred because both boats were operating at speed and carrying out un-coordinated manoeuvres in the same stretch of the river. The manoeuvres resulted in the boats heading towards each other and the subsequent action taken by both boats to avoid a collision was unsuccessful.

The MAIB identified the following safety issues:

  • No one was in overall charge of the training and familiarisation activities, so they were not properly managed, briefed or communicated between the crews of both boats.
  • The operation of the boats did not adhere to the requirements of the local standard operating procedures or risk assessments.
  • The standard operating procedures for all fire and rescue service boats in the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service were insufficient in content and contained incorrect information.
  • The fire and rescue services in the United Kingdom did not operate boats to a common standard or code of practice when not employed on flood rescue duties.

A recommendation has been made to Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service to review the crewing and staff qualification requirements for its boats, implement measures to maintain crew competency as boat helmsman, and improve its auditing process to include its boat operations.

The National Fire Chief’s Council has been recommended to adopt a nationwide standard of boat operations for all craft capable of being operated at sea by any fire and rescue service across the United Kingdom.

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