Legislation which aims to prevent electric shock injuries and drowning deaths near marinas and boat docks in Tennessee has received final approval in the State Senate with all members signing on the bill sponsored by Senator Steve Southerland (R-Morristown). The “Noah Dean and Nate Act” requires marinas to install ground fault protection, post notices about the danger of electrical leakage into waters surrounding a marina, and requires annual inspections by the Tennessee Fire Marshal’s office to ensure ground fault safety in the future.
The bill is named in memory of 10-year-old Noah Dean Winstead and 11-year-old Nate Lynam who died from electrical injuries they suffered on July 4, 2012, while swimming near a houseboat at a marina near Morristown, Tn. Since that time, their parents have worked to pass legislation to help ensure such a tragedy does not occur again.
“No parent should have to suffer this kind of tragedy,” said Senator Southerland. “This legislation implements safety measures to help ensure that the waters in and around boat docks and marinas are safe and that notices are posted to help protect the public.”
Details of the Senate Bill 1954 include:
· Effective April 1, 2015, any main overcurrent protective device, installed or replaced, that feeds a marina must have a ground-fault protection not exceeding 100 milliamperes (mA);
· Between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2017 and every five years thereafter, a safety inspection must be made by the state fire marshal;
· If a deficiency is found, the subsequent follow-up inspection required for repairs must be conducted by a commissioned deputy electrical inspector;
· Permanent safety signage must be installed within 80 feet to give notice to persons using the boat dock or marina or swimming area near the boat dock or marina, of the electric shock hazard risks;
· The bill prescribes penalties for violation of the proposed act which range from a Class A misdemeanor for violation of the ground-fault protection requirement when it does not result in bodily injury to a Class E felony if failure to adhere to the law results in death; and
· If any boat dock or marina operator who is found guilty under this law fails to comply with the requirements within 90 days of the judgment, the state fire marshal will declare the boat dock or marina to be a threat to public safety and order its closure until it is in compliance.
“I applaud the courage of the parents of Noah Dean and Nate in working toward passage of this legislation,” said Senator Southerland. “It is a tremendous public safety bill that will help prevent serious electric shock injuries and drowning deaths in Tennessee.”
The bill is pending consideration in the House of Representatives.