Decatur marina adjusts safety requirements following Jackson County boating dock fire

The change at Jay Landings Marina makes its safety regulations more serious than what the federal government requires.

Posted: Jan 28, 2020 9:52 PM
Updated: Jan 28, 2020 10:44 PM

A Decatur marina on Tuesday decided to tighten its safety rules after 8 people died Monday in a Scottsboro boat dock fire.

The change at Jay Landings Marina makes its safety regulations more serious than what the federal government requires.

Firefighters always say smoke detectors help save lives in homes, but federal law does not require smoke detectors on recreational boats, like the house boats that burned at the Jackson County Park Marina. Recreational boats must have a fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detector, but nothing to actually warn occupants about a fire is mandatory.

"Code of Federal Regulations does require that you have carbon monoxide detectors but it doesn't require that have smoke detectors," Reid Jenkins, manager at Jay Landings Marina, said. 

Jenkins is also a certified marine surveyor. To him, safety is the number one priority, and it's come to focus even more after Monday's fire. He and his team re-evaluated their own policies on Tuesday.

"We had a meeting today to determine, it's important to see ourselves, that they do have the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. We've begun to require that they have those and that we have proof of that," Jenkins said.

Federal law does requires smoke alarms on boats that carry paying passengers and "small inspected vessels." There is no mention when it comes to recreational boats.

Regardless, Jenkins and his team now require boats at the privately owned marina to have smoke detectors, because they say in an emergency, it could save lives.

Jenkins says he wants to make sure nothing like what happened in Scottsboro ever happens at his marina.

"It was tragic, it really was, and it's devastating because this marine community is a big family," Jenkins said.

Jenkins tells WAAY31 his marina asked fire marshals from the city of Decatur to perform a new inspection of his docks. He says they passed all tests.

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