M2018-01 Running ashore of a fireboat in Kivijärvi on 22 May 2018

A safety course has been arranged in several years near the end of the spring semester for the ninth-grade student of the Tainionmäki upper comprehensive school. The course contents have been practical and of the on-location practical training type. The safety course is mentioned in the school's annual plan. Different topics of the safety course have been trained by the different organisations and authorities in the Kivijärvi region.

In the spring of 2018, the safety course included boat training arranged by the Kivijärvi local unit of the Central Finland Rescue Department. The training objective was to train the students in driving a boat utilising a map plotter while the visibility is limited. For this reason, the boat's windscreen and some of the side windows covered. The previous group of students had completed the boat training without problems.

The boat's master was a fireman from the Central Finland Rescue Department. In addition to the boat's master, there were a teacher and four students on the boat. In the beginning of the trip that led to the incident, the boat's speed was increased to around 22 knots (around 40 kph). The familiarisation of the students with navigating using a map plotter was begun with the direction of the master as the boat approached a gate made of spar buoys, through which the students were intended to steer the boat. During the familiarisation, the master attempted to remove the route data stored in the map plotter during the previous group's training run. While deleting waypoints, the master did not notice a change in the boat's running direction towards the nearby shore. As he noticed the approaching shore just before running ashore, the master attempted to avoid collision by steering the boat to the right. He did not have time to reduce the speed of the boat.

The boat ran ashore at an angle of around 45 degrees and was ejected on dry ground several metres ashore. Nobody received serious injuries during the collision. The students and the teacher and the boat's master later visited a health centre for a check-up. After the incident, a debriefing event was organised for the participants in Tainionmäki school on 24 May 2018.

The person who noticed the incident from the opposite shore reported the accident immediately to the Emergency Response Centre, where the incident was categorised as a water traffic accident of medium severity. After this, the emergency duty officer contact the rescue authority on site, who, in this case, was also the master of the boat involved in the accident. The emergency duty officer did not become fully aware of this, and it did not clearly come up during the contact. Based on the conversation with the rescue officer who acted as the master of the boat involved in the accident, the emergency duty officer did not alert a response matching the accident accident category. The failure to alert a response was based on a situational assessment of the need for any additional assessment made by the rescue officer on site, who in this case was also the master of the boat involved in the accident.

Neither a risk assessment or a risk management plan had been prepared for the boat training stage of the safety course arranged by the rescue department. The teacher was not familiarised with the training programme in advance. Life vests were given to the students and the teacher, but no instructions were given on how to act in a possible emergency. Watch kept during the boat trip was very lacking.

The master of the boat did not have the maritime navigation qualifications approved by the authorities to pilot a commercial craft classified as a domestic cargo vessel during an inspection. The master's boating experience was based on voluntary practical training and a voluntary coastal shipping operator course targeted at boating enthusiasts.

The role of the Central Finland Rescue Department as the ship manager is not clear. The job descriptions of the personnel do not describe the responsibilities or obligations of a ship manager, or the qualification requirements possibly required by being a master of a boat or steering, servicing or maintaining a boat.

The Rescue Department of the Ministry of the Interior supervises and instructs the operations of the 22 rescue departments. The operation of the rescue departments is based on funding from the municipalities used to acquire the vessel fleet required by the rescue departments, for example. The Rescue Department of the Ministry of the Interior may instruct and supervise the operations of the rescue departments by preparing decrees, statutes and recommendations that can also be used to affect the vessel operations of the rescue departments – both in sea areas and inland waters.

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that

• The Finnish National Board of Education give instructions on taking student safety into consideration with regard to teaching, training and other events included in the curriculum taking place outside the school area or organised by outside parties. [2019-S20]

• The Ministry of the Interior draw up a regulation on the vessel operations of the rescue departments and issue an instruction for the transition period in order to secure the safe use of the vessel fleet [2019-S21].

• The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency draw up rules for commercial craft that take account of the special requirements related to the purposes of use and operating conditions of fireboats. [2019-S22].

M2018-01 Investigation report (in Finnish) (pdf, 0.98 Mt)

Published 8.3.2019