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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Saves Lives at Sea



Kinghorn RNLI Lifeboat volunteers were called out on Saturday morning following a mayday alert, after a pilot boat suffered an engine room fire.

Kinghorn lifeboat was launched at 3.36am after the pilot boat Forth Leopard made a distress call some 1.5 miles southeast of Kinghorn. The pilot boat had just taken a pilot to a container ship and was returning to Granton when fire broke out in its engine room.

The automatic fire extinguisher system on the pilot boat activated whilst the two crewmembers waited on the arrival of the lifeboat. The fire fighting tug, Fidra, also made its way to the pilot boat, arriving 30 minutes later.

Lifeboat helmsman Neil Chalmers said, ‘we arrived at the pilot boat’s position within 4 minutes of launching. The pilot boat was drifting near the main shipping channel, without power. The fire was still burning when we arrived although the engine room was sealed, and the carbon dioxide fire control system had been activated. There was a lot of smoke coming from vents.

‘The lifeboat stood by until the Fidra arrived on scene. The tug then took the pilot boat under tow, back to Leith docks. We assisted by transferring the casualties from the Forth Leopard onto the tug. We then escorted both vessels back to Leith where the disabled pilot boat was secured so the fire service could board the vessel.

‘The fire service were waiting at Leith for the arrival of the tug and pilot boat, where they then investigated and made sure the blaze was extinguished.

‘There were no injuries amongst the two crewmembers of the pilot boat, however it is understood they have been taken to hospital for a check up due to smoke inhalation from the fire.

The lifeboat then returned to station. Also on board were crewmembers Mark Brown, Iain Tulloch and Daniel Paton. Tractor driver Richard Malcomson launched the lifeboat.