Draft Consensus Document, March 19, 2008

Draft Consensus Document (March 19, 2008)

Premise and Definitions: Alarm practices and systems on ships are different than alarm practices and systems on land. The term visible alarms may include other appropriate visible signaling methods to communicate the general emergency alarm and local smoke detector alarm that do not trigger seizures in individuals who have epilepsy.

Recommendation #1 – Applies to general emergency alarms in public spaces which summon passengers to designated muster stations. Cabins (guest rooms) are addressed in recommendation #2 below.

Example: Prior to getting underway or in the course of getting underway, the crew of a vessel instructs the passengers on what actions the passengers must take when the general emergency alarm is activated (e.g., seven short sound blasts and one long sound blast). The instruction includes the location and route to the muster stations. When the alarm is activated, without waiting for further direction or instruction by the crew, passengers automatically head to their muster stations where they await further direction or instruction by crew members. Although crew members may be present and may provide direction to muster stations, the alarm system communicates a message independent of crew actions. This alarm system produces an automatic predetermined action in passengers which is similar to how building occupants respond to fire alarms.

  1. There is consensus to provide visible alarms in public spaces to communicate the message of the general emergency alarm.
  2. The visible system should be reliable, effective, and integrated into the ship’s general alarm system.
    1. “Reliable” means the visible alarms are activated with no meaningful delay whenever the general emergency alarm is activated.
    2. “Effective” means the visible alarms will alert individuals with hearing loss or deafness and does not trigger seizures in individuals who have epilepsy.
    3. “Integrated into the ship’s alarm system” means one outcome, audible and visible (e.g., one button).
  3. Technical standards need to be developed for visible alarms on vessels meeting the above three factors for interior and exterior (daylight) public spaces.
    1. Recognize existing standards (NFPA 72, UL 1971) as current best thinking for visible alarms (notification appliances) in interior spaces but may need to be adapted for vessels.
    2. Review other national standards (e.g., UK, Australia, Canada).
  4. Process for developing technical standards (need support from other countries for b, c & d):

    Short Range

    1. Request CLIA/PVA to develop industry standard which could be recognized by Access Board as best practice/safe harbor.

    Long Range

    1. Request Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) issue circular/guidelines on visual alarms based on CLIA/PVA document.
    2. Request International Standards Organization (ISO) to develop an ISO standard on visual alarms.
    3. Request International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopt ISO standard as an International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirement.
  5. Who should be involved in the CLIA/PVA process?Technical standards should be acceptable to and not conflict with requirements of the vessel’s administrative authority (USCG, foreign flag administration).
    1. Technical experts on ship design and alarms.
    2. Individuals with expertise in the needs of persons with hearing loss, deafness, and epilepsy.
    3. Access Board.
  6. Technical standards should be acceptable to and not conflict with requirements of the vessel’s administrative authority (USCG, foreign flag administration).

Recommendation #2 – Applies to general emergency alarms and local smoke detector alarms in cabins (guest rooms).

Example 1: The general alarm is activated, and passengers in cabins are alerted (and awaken if necessary) and automatically head to the muster stations without waiting for crew directions or instructions.

Example 2: The cabin smoke detector activates a cabin alarm, and passengers in that cabin are alerted (and awaken if necessary) and automatically leave the cabin without waiting for crew directions or instructions.

  1. There is consensus to provide appropriate visible and tactile alarms to notify passengers in cabins when they are awake or asleep. Based on research there may be other methods to awaken sleeping hard of hearing passengers1.
  2. The visible and tactile alarm systems in cabins should be reliable, effective, and integrated into the ship’s general alarm system.Portable systems that meet the above criteria should be permitted. Portable systems should be approved by the vessel’s administrative authority (USCG, foreign flag administration), and installed in the cabin per manufacturer’s specifications. Signage should be provided to notify passengers of the availability of portable systems.
    1. “Reliable” means the visible and tactile alarms are activated with no meaningful delay whenever the general emergency alarm or local smoke detector alarms are activated.
    2. “Effective” means the visible and tactile alarms will alert individuals with hearing loss or deafness when they are awake and when they are asleep and do not trigger seizures in individuals who have epilepsy.
    3. “Integrated into the ship’s alarm system” means that the system in the cabin and the alarm system in the bridge/safety center will be interconnected by hardwire, radio-frequency, or other effective means.
  3. Technical standards need to be developed for visible and tactile alarm system in cabins. Use same process as under recommendation #1.

Recommendation #3 – Applies to emergency alarms (audible alarm or voice alert) in public spaces to notify/get passenger attention, followed by crew instructions on how to respond.

Example: A general alarm is sounded over the vessel public address system, or an announcement is made about an emergency condition (like a fire in the galley). Although passengers may be aware that the alarm is activated or know some type of emergency condition exists on the vessel, without direction or instruction by the crew, passengers are unsure of where to go in the vessel and how to respond.

A) Safety Briefing Upon Boarding

New Construction Design Elements: If an audio amplification system (e.g., public address system) is provided for a safety briefing, the amplification system must include the ability to transmit the audio signal to at least one type of assistive listening system (ALS) (e.g., Inductive loop, FM, and Infra-red). The ALS will be hearing aid compatible and will include more than one option of hearing aid compatible coupling device include coupling devices and hearing-aid compatibility. Use the 2006 draft vessel accessibility guidelines for determining the number of receivers.

Operational Elements: If audible instruction, there must be a visual auxiliary aids and services per 28 CFR part 35.160 (DOJ title II regulations), 28 CFR part 36.303 (DOJ title III regulations), and 49 CFR part 37.5(f) (DOT regulations) which could include computers, data screens, illustrative instructions (pictures), LCD TVs, wall mounted or hand carried placards, and white boards. Industry should evaluate how to better provide safety info to persons with hearing loss or deafness upon boarding. Concerns about DOT NPRM include: the use of auxiliary aids and service for effective communication over the full spectrum of hearing loss, including visual and audible.

B) Emergency Alert

New Construction Design Elements: There is consensus to provide visible alarms for emergency alerts. See recommendation #1 above on development of technical standards for visible alarms.

Operational Elements: No Recommendations.

C) Emergency Instructions

New Construction Design Elements: If an audio amplification system is provided for emergency instructions, the amplification system must include the ability to transmit the audio signal to at least one type of ALS (e.g., Inductive loop, FM, and Infra-red). The ALS will be hearing aid compatible and will include more than one option of hearing aid compatible coupling device include coupling devices and hearing-aid compatibility. Use the 2006 draft vessel accessibility guidelines for determining the number of receivers. Emergency power must be provided for ALS, if amplification system has emergency power.

Operational Elements: If audible instruction, there must be a visual auxiliary aids and services per 28 CFR part 35.160 (DOJ title II regulations), 28 CFR part 36.303 (DOJ title III regulations), and 49 CFR part 37.5(f) (DOT regulations) which could include computers, data screens, illustrative instructions (pictures), LCD TVs, wall mounted or hand carried placards, and white boards.

Recommendation #4 – Areas of additional research and recommendations.

  1. Have assistive listening system at muster stations that will be hearing aid compatible and will include more than one option of hearing aid compatible coupling device including coupling devices and hearing-aid compatibility.
  2. Review/Research notification appliances to ensure their effectiveness for their intended purposes for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, ensuring no effects on persons with epilepsy.Effective text and visual gestural communications.
    • Using strobes to awaken those passengers who are deaf.
    • Rotating beacons to alert or awaken passengers
    • Flashing lights in portable ADA kits to alert or awaken passengers
    • Visible signaling outdoors to alert passengers
    • Tactile notification appliances to awaken passengers
    • Use of broader bands for audible general alarms, including 520 Hz square wave, to awaken passengers.

Recommendation #5 – Supplemental emergency communications by public address system or crew.

  1. Industry and disability organizations want to dialog with DOT on effective emergency communications. DOT rule on effective communications covers all kinds of communications on vessels, including emergency communications.
  2. Methods of providing effective communications, including emerging technologies, personal display devices, portable ALS which will be hearing aid compatible and will include more than one option of hearing aid compatible coupling device (including coupling and hearing-aid compatibility), printed material, and sign language interpreters.
  3. What does effective communication mean in emergencies?
  4. Training of crew in regards to the needs of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, including learning about hard of hearing and deaf cultures.
  5. No one should be on a cruise ship without access to emergency info. Industry needs to ask the right questions, and provide customer information on web sites and promotional material, to encourage people to self-ID. If some people don’t self-ID, the ship needs a minimum number onboard devices anyway.
Changes (shown in yellow as insertions or deletions) to Feb 22 and March 13, 2008 Versions.
  1. Page 3, Recommendation #2, section 1) “hard of hearing” added, as the square wave has been shown to be successful only with hard of hearing, not deaf, individuals.
  2. Page 3, footnote, 2009 corrected to 2010.
  3. Page 4, Recommendation #3, sections A and C), modified ALS statement, per members understanding of the intent. [New Changes]
  4. Page 5, Recommendation #4, section 2), modified ALS statement, per members understanding of the intent. [New Change]
  5. Page 5, Recommendation #4, section 3), “text and” added, per attendee’s notes.
  6. Page 5, Recommendation #5, section 2) modified ALS statement, per members understanding of the intent. [New Change]

1 Recently, the NFPA 72 committee has proposed (accepted in principle) to amend section 11.3.7 of NFPA 72 (for the 2010 version) to have a low frequency alarm signal in certain sleeping rooms. The alarm signal would have a square wave or equivalent awakening ability. The wave would have a fundamental frequency of 520 Hz +/- 10%, and the minimum sound level at the pillow would be 75 dBA, or 15 dB above the ambient noise level, whichever is greater.