Alarm was disabled on BP rig

Fox News reports:

The fire alarm system on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was partially disabled prior to the catastrophic explosion that caused the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a rig worker testified Friday.

The rig’s chief electronics technician told a federal panel that the Horizon’s general alarm system was deliberately set in “inhibited” mode so that sirens would not wake the sleeping crew in the middle of the night.

“They did not want people woken up at 3 a.m. from false alarms,” Michael Williams told the six-member panel. As a result, the alarm failed to trigger during the emergency, and workers were forced to sound the alarm through the loudspeaker system on board.

But Transocean, the rig’s owner, issued a statement Friday afternoon saying it is common for alarms on rigs and vessels to to be “zone based.”

“It was not a safety oversight or done as a matter of convenience,” the company said. “The Deepwater Horizon had hundreds of individual fire and gas alarms, all of which were tested, in good condition, not bypassed and monitored from the bridge. The general alarm is controlled by a person on the bridge and sounded from there, only when conditions require.”

(Previous post.)

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