Best practices in marina risk management

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According to market research, the current economy has taken its toll on marinas. Now, in addition to the traditional risks they face, marinas must contend with crimes stemming from economic hardship.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General David Ogden noted that the “current economic downturn has already meant an upswing in some areas.” A survey of mayors and police chiefs across the country also supported this finding, with 42 percent of cities surveyed indicating that crime in their cities is a direct function of economic conditions.

As for marinas, economically driven criminal activity often manifests itself in acts of arson and/or sabotage. These risks, in addition to other common exposures, including fires, environmental, natural disasters and human error, demand that marinas adhere to sound practices to mitigate risks and associated liabilities.

Starting with the threat of fire, for example, there are many real and present dangers to marinas. From the flammable material composition of boats and their rack, dry rack or nestled storage, to the presence of gasoline and petroleum-based products, the conditions are conducive to fires.

The data on fire risks for marinas is compelling. The National Fire Protection Association Fire Analysis and Research Division’s Summary of Loss Data for Marinas and Boatyards, August 2008, reported on many major fires and their associated costs. Among the report’s findings was a fire involving a marina building constructed of corrugated steel and unprotected steel beams, which caught fire and caused the destruction of 52 boats and $4 million in damages.

In another fire stat, the NFPA report cited an 82-boat fire occurring where there were no dividers in three-boat tall storage racks, which also caused the facility to collapse. The NFPA does have requirements for marinas (i.e., fire detectors in interior or covered locations not protected by a fixed automatic sprinkler system) and is continually enhancing its NFPA 303, Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards, and NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. There are also specific best practices marinas should implement to prevent fires.

Beyond fire, marinas must comply with a host of environmental laws, such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water and Clean Air Act stipulating how solid waste and hazardous waste is handled. There are also various initiatives underway by the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage marinas’ best practices relating to environmental improvements.

One such initiative, “Clean Marinas — Clear Value,” which the EPA instituted in conjunction with the U.S. Office of Water, presented significant cost savings to marines that implemented trash, water and fuel recycling programs, as well as hull serving improvements.

Understanding all of these and other risks associated with marinas and best practices to minimize risks is critical for all facilities.

Click here for the full text of Griffin’s article.

Sean H. Griffin
Account Executive/Marine Specialist
Commercial Insurance Division
Cook, Hall & Hyde Inc.

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