US Access Board 2004/2006 Draft Vessel Guidelines

V215 Emergency Alarm Systems

V215.1 General. Where emergency alarm systems are provided to alert passengers, alarms shall comply with V215.

Exception: In alterations, compliance with V215 shall not be required except where an existing alarm system is upgraded or replaced, or a new alarm system is installed.

V215.2 Public Areas. Alarms in public areas shall comply with principles of best practice.

[2004 Draft: Permanently installed audible and visible alarms complying with NFPA 72, p 57-60 (2002).]

V215.3 Guest Rooms. Guest rooms required to comply with V224.4 shall provide alarms complying with principles of best practice.

[2004 Draft: Permanently installed audible and visible alarms complying with NFPA 72, p 57-60 (2002).]

V224.4 Communication Features. Guest rooms with communication features complying with V806.3 shall be provided in accordance with Table V224.4.

Table V224.4 Guest Rooms with Communication Features
Total Number of
Guest Rooms Provided
Minimum Number of Required Guest
Rooms with Communication Features
2 to 25 2
26 to 50 4
51 to 75 7
76 to 100 9
101 to 150 12
151 to 200 14
201 to 300 17
301 to 400 20
401 to 500 22
501 to 1000 5 percent of total
1001 and over 50, plus 3 for each 100 over 1000

V806.3 Guest Rooms with Communication Features. Guest rooms required to provide communication features shall comply with V806.3.

V806.3.1 Alarms. Where emergency warning systems are provided, alarms complying with principles of best practice shall be provided.

[2004 Draft: Permanently installed audible and visible alarms complying with NFPA 72, p 57-60 (2002).]

Excerpt on Emergency Alarms from Supplementary Information included with the US Access Board 2006 Draft Vessel Guidelines

V215 Emergency Alarms. This draft modifies V215 by requiring emergency alarm systems which are provided to alert passengers to comply with principles of best practice. This is similar to a provision in ADAAG for medical care facilities which permits fire alarm systems in medical care facilities to be provided in accordance with industry practice. The 2004 draft required emergency alarm systems (both audible and visible) to be permanently installed and to comply with NFPA 72.

Commenters [on the 2004 draft guidelines] primarily focused on the desire to allow portable systems with enhanced capabilities as an alternative to requiring permanently installed visible alarms in public areas and in guest rooms required by V224.4 to have communication features. Aside from problems in interfacing visible alarm systems with public address systems over which audible alarms operate, these commenters noted benefits in using portable systems. Portable systems would allow technological advances to be more rapidly adopted which could provide better information during emergencies than permanently installed visible alarms. Portable systems would also allow more guest rooms to be covered than the two percent proposed in the 2004 draft. The same portable systems could also be used to communicate more effectively other information about shipboard activities to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Board is also aware of how employees on passenger vessels play an important role in providing directions and addressing passenger needs during emergencies. This heightened role is more analogous to how hospitals notify its patients and is completely different from most other facilities on land.

As technology in this area is rapidly changing, this draft proposes that alarm systems comply with principles of best practice to alert passengers. Alarm systems which are in accordance with principles of best practice may contain capabilities which are more than just flashing lights and better meet the emergency needs of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Excerpts DOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

(Federal Register January 23, 2007, pages 2833 to 2851)

Sec. 39.57 What is the general requirement for PVOs’ communications with passengers? PVOs must ensure the effective communication to passengers with disabilities of all information provided to passengers, through the use of auxiliary aids where needed.

Sec. 39.85 What services must PVOs provide to passengers with a disability on board a passenger vessel? As a PVO, you must provide services on board the vessel as requested by or on behalf of passengers with a disability, or when offered by PVO personnel and accepted by passengers with a disability, as follows:

  1. Assistance in moving about the vessel, with respect to any spaces that are not readily accessible and usable to the passenger.
  2. If food is provided to passengers on the vessel, assistance in preparation for eating, such as opening packages and identifying food;
  3. Effective communication with passengers who have vision impairments or who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, so that these passengers have timely access to information the PVO provides to other passengers (e.g., weather, on-board services, delays).

Sec. 39.89 What requirements apply to on-board safety briefings, information, and drills? As a PVO, you must comply with the following requirements with respect to safety briefings, information, or drills provided to passengers:

  1. You must provide the briefings or other safety-related information through means that effectively communicate their content to persons with vision or hearing impairments. This includes providing written materials in alternative formats that persons with vision impairments can use.
  2. You must not require any passenger with a disability to demonstrate that he or she has listened to, read, or understood the information presented, except to the extent that you impose such a requirement on all passengers. You must not take any action adverse to a qualified individual with a disability on the basis that the person has not ``accepted'' the briefing.
  3. As a PVO, if you present on-board safety briefings to passengers on video screens, you must ensure that the safety-video presentation is accessible to passengers with impaired hearing (e.g., through use of open captioning or placement of a sign language interpreter in the video).You must provide whatever assistance is necessary to enable passengers with disabilities to participate fully in safety or emergency evacuation drills provided to all passengers.
    1. You may use an equivalent non-video alternative to this requirement only if neither open captioning nor a sign language interpreter inset can be placed in the video presentation without so interfering with it as to render it ineffective or it would not be large enough to be readable.
    2. You may implement the requirements of this section by substituting captioned or interpreted video materials for uncaptioned/uninterpreted video materials as the uncaptioned/uninterpreted materials are replaced in the normal course of the carrier's operations.
  4. You must maintain evacuation programs, information, and equipment in locations that passengers can readily access and use.

Sec. 39.93 What mobility aids and other assistive devices may passengers with a disability bring onto a passenger vessel?

  1. As a PVO, you must permit passengers with a disability to bring the following kinds of items onto a passenger vessel, consistent with Coast Guard requirements concerning security, safety, and hazardous materials:You must permit passengers with a disability to use their mobility aids and assistive devices on board the vessel in all locations passengers access.
    1. Wheelchairs and other mobility devices, including, but not limited to, manual wheelchairs and battery-powered wheelchairs;
    2. Other mobility aids, such as canes (including those used by persons with impaired vision), crutches, and walkers;
    3. Other assistive devices (e.g., vision-enhancing devices, personal ventilators, portable oxygen concentrators, and respirators that use non-spillable batteries);
    4. Personal oxygen supplies.
  2. You are not required to permit passengers with a disability to bring these items into lifeboats or other survival craft, in the context of an emergency evacuation of the vessel.