RAYMOND - The U.S. Coast Guard held its first Industry Day on Jan. 11 for the benefit of 40 charter boat operators from Westport to Ilwaco.

In view of the fact there were two onboard fires during the past season, the Coast Guard brought a contingent of inspectors from the Portland office and Cape Disappointment to supplement the informative program.

The primary emphasis of the meeting was onboard fire systems and fuel lines. Most onboard fires are caused by overheated equipment, electrical, exhaust systems, bottle (Halon) locations and faulty Halon cables. The two 2002 shipboard fires were examined in detail, showing contributing factors and how preventive maintenance could have prevented them. The meeting was designed to assist the boat owners in preparing for upcoming inspections.

The spokesman for the USCG continually emphasized the fact that they can only serve the maritime fishing industry at a higher level if the USCG receives feedback from operators.

Company representatives from Fire Boy and Sea Fire were in attendance to explain, in detail, the operations of their respective systems. The testing of manually controlled cable releases (Halon) will be an intricate part of this year's inspection.

Fuel lines are also a cause of onboard fires and will be another primary point of inspection this coming season.

The "do you know how to use your EPIRB" portion of the program was graphically presented with audience participation, playing as a learning experience. It proceeded to show the advantages of the 406MHz versus the 121.5MHz models, and the advantages of the polar orbiting satellite system for locating vessels in distress.

Another major presentation consisted of USCG helicopter air-sea rescue techniques. This included: Questions asked during a medical emergency, what to look for and how to handle circumstances when dealing with a HH-60J "Jawhawk" helicopter, how to handle hoists, baskets and rescue divers, hoisting operations and helicopter boat positioning.

After the meeting, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., USCG personnel where available to answer questions from all interested parties. The overall feeling of the charter boat operators was that the meeting was very well organized, presented with well-informed speakers and was certainly time well spent.

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