The Cairns Post
Probe into Fitzroy Flyer evacuation
SAFETY officials are investigating an emergency that broke out on-board a Cairns tour operator’s boat last week, resulting in nearly 40 passengers being evacuated to other vessels.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is examining a suspected engine room fire and passenger evacuation on-board the Fitzroy Flyer, 13km eastnorth-east of Cairns last Friday.
The Flyer left Fitzroy Island on a return trip to Cairns with four crew and 37 passengers on-board.
The bureau’s initial report shows that about 2.10pm, the vessel’s master noticed the port main engine was overheating, and he reduced the engine throttle to idle.
Shortly after, a fire alarm activated in the engine compartment.
“Crew members investigated and reported a suspected fire,” the report states.
“Crew members then attempting to extinguish the fire using CO2 and dry powder, however, they could not confirm their actions were successful.”
All passengers were evacuated from the vessel by 4pm to other boats that came to assist.
The initial investigation, however, found the smoke was actually steam, as the port engine cooling water header tank was empty.
There were also no signs of a fire, nor any fire damage in the engine compartment.
Fitzroy Island Resort chief executive Glen Macdonald said a fan belt feeding the boat’s raw water pump had snapped, resulting in the vessel’s engine not being properly cooled down.
He said the event showed the crew were well-versed in emergency procedures.
“There’s no issues with anything, and no fire – it was just steam from the coolant,” he said.
He said the vessel was already back in service.
“I just want to thank the team for their efforts, and other operators that supported us, where necessary,” he said.
“We didn’t actually need to call anyone in, they were incidentally there.”
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