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News Roundup - Boaters: Don't spill your fuel/Worker aided by ladder truck

The Bainbridge Island Fire Department’s ladder truck was used Friday to help extricate an injured worker from the fifth floor of a building at the Harbor Square condominum construction site.  - Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Island Fire Department
The Bainbridge Island Fire Department’s ladder truck was used Friday to help extricate an injured worker from the fifth floor of a building at the Harbor Square condominum construction site.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Island Fire Department

Boaters: Don’t spill your fuel

As boating season gets underway, state and local officials are warning of an increased rate of fuel spills while offering ways boaters can keep gas leaks in check.

“It’s a good time for people to tune-up their outboards and check their bilges to make sure the water is clean,” said city Harbormaster Tami Allen. “Those are two huge things people could do now to prevent spills.”

With more than 272,000 registered boats in Washington state, even small spills are a significant threat to the marine life and habitat, according to the state Department of Ecology.

The DOE is also advising boaters to use absorbent pads in the bilge area to soak up leaking oil, make use of fuel collar devices to catch drips while fueling and learn the capacity of individual vessel fuel tanks to avoid overfilling and to leave room for fuel expansion.

Anyone spotting a fuel spill are asked to call 800-OILS-911 or the U.S. Coast Guard at 800-424-8802.

The DOE or Coast Guard may send a clean-up crew, depending on the size of the spill. Some small spills quickly evaporate and are not recoverable. But Allen urges boaters to report the incident anyway to help keep tabs on spill types and locations. Allen typically receives just two or three fuel spill reports in Eagle Harbor each year.

Gas and oil spills poison aquatic life while a poorly maintained boat can also be deadly if it leads to a fire, explosion or sinking.

The risks to people and aquatic resources were illustrated last August when an early morning fire at the Harborview Marina in Gig Harbor destroyed 50 boats.

Nearly all the boats sank and released several thousand gallons of fuel and oil into the harbor.

“Every time a big oil spill happens, it is on the news,” said Dale Jensen, who oversees the DOE’s spill prevention and response programs.

“But what people don’t realize is that all the small oil spills that happen year around add up to more oil in the water than most big spills in any given year.”

Steps to take to prevent an oil spill include:

• Tune up boat motors, check for oil and fuel leaks, and fix them before the vessel’s initial launch.

• If the boat’s engine uses coolant, drain the existing fluid, recycle it and replace it. At the same time, replace any old, stiff or cracking coolant hoses before they fail.

• Replace a vessel engine’s old gear oil with fresh oil. Take the used oil to a recycling center along with old boat batteries.

• To prevent sinking, inspect the cockpit drains to make sure they are clear and will let rain water or wave spray pass.

• Plug or seal fuel lines during routine maintenance to prevent leakage.

• Put clean absorbent pads in the bilge to collect any oil that accumulates.

• Use an absorbent pad or fuel collar device to catch drips while fueling.

• Know the capacity of your fuel tank and avoid overfilling. Leave room for fuel expansion.

– Tristan Baurick

Worker aided by ladder truck

Bainbridge Island firefighters used the department’s ladder truck to rescue an injured worker at the Harbor Square condominium construction site Friday.

Firefighters found the worker on the fifth floor scaffolding with a self-inflicted nail gun wound in his left leg.

Due to the seriousness of the injury and limited accessibility to the victim, firefighters used a specially designed basket at the end of the truck’s ladder to lower the man to the ground and load him into an ambulance. He was treated at the scene and then transported to Harborview Medical Center for additional care.

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