Few regulations oversee condition of boat docks in Alabama

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala - Eight people were killed and 7 others were treated at the hospital as the result of a dock fire in Jackson County early Monday morning.

The investigation into what started the fire is still underway.

As the effort continues, WHNT is learning if regulations are in place for boat docks at marinas and ports. While there are multiple local and state agencies that oversee certain aspects of marinas in the state it doesn't seem that there are many regulations providing specific guidelines for docks in Alabama.

Before a dock is built, the Tennessee Valley Authority has to give it its stamp of approval through a 26a permit. According to the TVA website, it has authority over construction aspects like the size of the dock - where it is placed and how it connects to the shore.
TVA does no* regulate fire safety plans.

Neither does the State Fire Marshal's office. A spokesperson confirmed that they do not inspect docks as a general rule, but they will upon request or if they receive a complaint.

According to Jackson County Park's marina policy, there are to be "No open flame grills or cookers on the marina docks. They must be kept on boats."

It also says boaters must keep $300,000 worth of liability insurance and that the "lessee agrees that Jackson County is not responsible for any damages to personal property."

According to the bait shop owner, Dock B was used by many houseboats and pontoons paying a month to month or annual rental fee.
Scottsboro Fire officials say in total 35 boats were destroyed in the fire.

WHNT News 19 reached out to several different Jackson County officials. They had been up since the middle of the night working with crews on the scene so they were unable to answer many of our questions.

To help provide some insight, WHNT reached out to officials at Ditto Landing in Madison County. Officials there say there are no state regulations that require annual reports about dock conditions or maintenance.

Ditto Landing does an annual electrical inspection as part of their general liability insurance. They also conduct electrical inspections as needed.

Ditto Landing does have a fire safety plan, but said it is not required by the state.

They also say, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management does require reporting and inspections for fuel tank leaks. A leak could create multiple problems including a fire hazard if one was present.

Again, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

WHNT News 19 is working to get a copy of Jackson County's 26a permit from TVA. WHNT filed a Freedom of Information Act request and have been told to expect it Tuesday.

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