Feinstein Proposes New Safety Rules In Wake Of Conception Dive Boat Tragedy

A raging fire engulfed the diving boat Conception in the predawn hours on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Authories believe 34 people were trapped below deck as the ship burned and later sank off Santa Cruz Island. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Boat safety rules could be getting an overhaul in response to the Conception dive boat disaster under a bill introduced Thursday by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The vessel erupted in flames in the early morning hours of Labor Day off the Channel Islands, killing all 34 people who were sleeping below deck.

The bill seeks to, among other things:

  • require small passenger vessels to have at least two means of escape to other parts of the boat
  • require safety standards for the handling and storage of phones, cameras, and electronic devices with lithium ion batteries
  • create stricter standards for fire alarm systems

"The Conception boat fire was a tragedy that could have been prevented if stronger safety measures were in place," Feinstein said on Twitter Thursday. "This can't happen again. Congress should act on this bill before another tragedy strikes."

The National Transportation Safety Board is still working on its final investigation into the boat fire, but its preliminary report found smoke alarms on the Conception only sounded locally, so crew above decks didn't know the fire had started. And flames blocked the emergency exit below deck.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.