Today in fire history: cruise ship successfully evacuated, but 90 firefighters injured

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Mar 9, 2012

On March 9, 1984, a fire occurred in a crew cabin of a ship on a daily cruise approximately 5 miles off the coast of central Florida.  The fire was discovered at approximately 7:30 p.m. and officers on the bridge immediately mobilized the ship’s fire brigade.  Crew members attempted unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire; while the attempts were being made, the captain alerted the passengers and returned the ship to a terminal at Port Canaveral.  When the ship reached land, the ship’s crew assisted all 744 passengers in safely disembarking the ship, meanwhile, land-based fire crews boarded the ship and began fire suppression operations. 

Fire suppression operations took 40 hours, and caused 90 firefighter injuries.  Six of the injured were transported to local hospitals for treatment.  Six factors were identified during the investigation which contributed significantly to the magnitude of this incident.

  • The failure to extinguish the fire in its incipient stage
  • The fuel loading of the cabins in the area of initial fire involvement
  • The failure of fire station hoses onboard the ship when fire crews attempted to place these lines in service
  • The incompatibility of the ship’s fire station (standpipe) hose connections with land-based fire department hose couplings
  • The lack of a detailed contingency plan for firefighting operations onboard ships docked at Port Canaveral
  • The lack of training of the land-based fire department units in shipboard firefighting tactics

NFPA members can download the full investigation report