Marine Fire Safety


In the aftermath of the 1982 Protector Alpha Fire, in which a lack of training, equipment and understanding resulted in the death of one Coast Guardsman and the critical injury of a firefighter, the U.S. Coast Guard spear-headed the formation of an ad-hoc industry committee to review the challenges associated with shipboard fires.  The Maritime Fire and Safety Association (MFSA) was established in November 1983.


Membership is made up of 25 Ports and Private Facilities along the Lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers.  They tasked themselves with developing a system to ensure an adequate, timely and well coordinated response to ship fires along the 110 mile shipping channel, which includes two states, seven counties, fourteen cities, seven port districts and over twenty fire agencies.


The Lower Columbia Marine Fire Safety Plan (the "Marine Fire Plan"), originally developed in 1984 and revised in 1991, provides for building a marine fire response capability along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers from the Portland/Vancouver harbor area to Astoria, near the mouth of the river.  The purpose of the Marine Fire Plan is to set forth a comprehensive system which ensures fast, well-coordinated and effective response to ship fire incidents in the Lower Columbia region.


MFSA proposed a per vessel assessment to the membership.  The membership approved the assessment as a stable funding source to deal with on going maintenance of the MFSA's efforts.  Currently, the fee is collected from all ocean-going vessels that call at a member's dock.  Some federal funding has been received by the MFSA to assist in equipment purchases and training, but the association did not want to become dependent upon this funding so the membership's self assessments have continued.