A fire on deck damaged the diver’s BC without him realizing it and used it to dive.
A diver and his buddy were on a dive boat in Thailand. They had their own equipment except for the air tanks and weights. During the ride out to the dive site, the divers set up their gear then sat down to enjoy the rest of the ride, watching the view and enjoying the sunshine. As they neared their destination, the divers heard a commotion among the crew in the back of the boat. One of the guides informed the divers that there was a fire.
The boat was not evacuated, however, and the dive guides commenced with the briefing as the fire was extinguished with water. There were no visible damage to the boat and the dive continued as planned and without incident. The ride back was also uneventful and gave the divers a chance to converse with the boat crew about the fire.
Apparently, there had been a fuel leak from one of the compressors or possibly one of the crewmen attempted to re-fuel the compressor while it was running. In any case, burning fuel spilled onto the deck, and one of the crewmen suffered burns on his leg. Other than that, there were no other visible signs that there had been fire on the boat.
After returning on shore, the divers went to rinse off their gear and noticed that a large section of the BC shell’s inner lining had completely melted, exposing the buoyancy pouch inside; a condition that could have caused failure of the BC during the dive.
Upon seeing the damage, the diver realized that although his gear was rigged and tied up away from the location of the fire, he should have checked more thoroughly before donning his gear. Looking back on the event, the only plausible explanation the divers could come up with was that the fire was doused with water, and since fuel floats on water, some of the burning fuel may very well have washed over the whole deck, all the way to where the gear was stored.
While this type of incident is uncommon, it may be worth bearing in mind to always check your gear a second time especially when an unusual event occurs, like a fire, which may have compromised other equipment onboard. Luckily, all was well after the fire and the diver’s damaged BC was replaced by the dive shop.