Chief: Human error likely played part in fireboat crash

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Human error likely contributed to a Charleston fireboat accident last month, according to Fire Chief Karen Brack. The boat hit a buoy during a Navy rescue attempt, officials said.

Afterward, it had to be rescued by a North Charleston boat.

Brack said the pilot of the fire boat was up to date with his training. She declined to release his identity.

"This pilot had been involved in various professions in{}Charleston harbor since 1998. He held several coast guard licenses including 100-ton license for tug boats," Brack said.

But, she said department training has room for improvement. She said the department rotates{}three crews{}on the boat;{}all were trained by its manufacturer. The Coast Guard is still investigating the crash.

"[The pilot] was trained according to a policy in place before we ever put a boat in service," she said. "We believed at the time when we set training up that we were ahead of the curve. Obviously, we are re-assessing that at this point and what we can do to be better."

Charleston Fire Department is working with the Coast Guard to create a new joint-training program, she said. They hoped it would be a national model for both safety and cooperation.

"We have a great opportunity to take our lessons learned and do something very productive with it and put in place a program that will be even stronger than the program we had in place when we started," Brack said.

She said she did not know how much the damage will cost the department, nor how long the boat will be out of commission.

A Coast Guard official said he expected the investigation to take about{}six months.