PFDMA Industry News

NEWS From BoatUS

Life Jacket Designs Break New Ground

Competition Winners Announced

ANNAPOLIS, Md, March 28, 2011 - If you think that life jackets have to be bulky, uncomfortable or hot to wear, the winners of the "Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition" will prove you wrong. The BoatUS Foundation and Underwriter's Laboratory recently announced the winners of their 2011 competition, and you may be surprised at how much the inventive designs break new ground.
The Competition, which began last year and was open to anyone, asked a simple question: Can you build a better life jacket? Of the original 35 entries (some from as far away as Malaysia), 15 semi-finalists were selected and short videos of the designs were posted online for the public to pick their favorites, with the focus on choosing life jackets that were more innovative, wearable, affordable, reliable and practical. In addition, expert judges voted for their favorite designs at the recent International Boating and Water Safety Summit held in Savannah, GA. The combined votes resulted in today's three winners:
#1 The See-Tee by Float-Tech Inc.
The first place winner is the "See-Tee", a design from Jeff Betz of the Troy, NY based Float-Tech Inc. This isn't Betz's first life jacket innovation - his company started as the result of a graduate school project that designed the firm's first non-traditional inflatable life jacket based on a foul weather coat.
The Sea-Tee is a standard rash-guard shirt that many water sports enthusiasts are used to wearing - but with a twist. It has a built-in inflatable bladder similar to most inflatable life jackets. Betz is careful not to call this a life jacket however, and simply refers to it as a buoyancy aid.
Said Betz: "The Sea-Tee is a thousand times better than traditional life jackets for many of the activities people engage in on the water. Most life jackets are designed to standards that are meant for offshore conditions, but most boaters are on calm inland waters. Jackets built to 100 percent of the current standards - but not worn, are zero percent effective. So with the Sea-Tee you can wear essentially the same shirt you're used to wearing on the water, and have the back-up of a buoyancy aid in case of an emergency."
The company received the $5,000 first place prize, awarded by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), for their efforts. "UL is honored to have been a part of the Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition," said UL's Joseph Waters. "The ability to provide support for such an effort is consistent with our mission to promote public safety in our homes, our communities, and around the world. We look forward to seeing what the future holds when today's innovation in PFDs becomes tomorrow's reality."
#2 The Directors Bureau's Float Coat
Second place went to the Directors Bureau, a Los Angeles based creative consulting company that works in the film industry. Their "Float Coat" is a windbreaker with added floatation. The Bureau, represented by Sebastian Pardo, said his firm had never delved into this type of project before. Pardo stated that their guiding strategy was to design something that, "should always work, shouldn't require action by the person wearing the jacket, and should be fashionable."
While not a unique design, judges felt that the distinctive placement of the floatation, which included never-before-seen hollow "microspheres," or small spherical particles, along with fashionable styling, made it stand out. The firm took home a $1,000 prize, graciously provided by the National Safe Boating Council.
#3 St. Thomas More High School's Aqua Buoy
Third place went to the design team of high school seniors Josh Jankowski and Nathan Karabon of St. Thomas More High School in Milwaukee, WI. Their design, which marries traditional foam floatation in a modern inflatable configuration, is a result of their school's Pathway to Engineering curriculum that is part of the national "Project Lead the Way" program. Jankowski and Karabon's interest in designing a life jacket came from learning about the competition while doing research as part of their senior research project.
As the youngest participants in the competition, the duo surveyed boaters and resear
ched designs to come up with their prototype. Jankowski and Karabon took home a $500 prize awarded by the BoatUS Foundation.
The winners can be seen at Plans for the next round of the design competition are already underway and will be announced in 2012.
About the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water:
The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. Funded primarily by the half million members of BoatUS, it provides innovative educational outreach directly to boaters and anglers with the aim of reducing accidents and fatalities, increasing stewardship of America's waterways and keeping boating safe for all. To make a tax-deductible donation to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit, go to
About Underwriters Laboratories:
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is an independent product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing standards for safety for more than a century. UL evaluates more than 19,000 types of products, components, materials and systems annually with 20 billion UL marks appearing on 66,000 manufacturers' products each year. UL's worldwide family of companies and network of service providers includes 68 laboratory, testing and certification facilities serving customers in 102 countries. For more information go to

Service Asks Wildlife Enthusiasts to Support National Survey

The 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (FHWAR) starts April 1. This important survey is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Service appreciates the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers, and other citizens throughout the country who participate in the survey when contacted by the Census Bureau. The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of participation and expenditures.

The last survey revealed that 87.5 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older, 38% of the population, participated in wildlife-related recreation activities. These recreationists spent over $122 billion pursuing their activities.

Participation is totally voluntary and all responses are strictly confidential. Data collected is used for statistical purposes only and no participant can be identified from information contained in the database and follow-up reports.

The reports of previous surveys are posted at The 2011 survey reports will start being posted in the spring of 2012.


January 6, 2011

Dear PFDMA Colleague:

Please note the attached response from the Coast Guard which has initiated a Federal Register docket for comment on the Petition for Rulemaking with respect to uninspected passenger vessel lifejacket requirements. This common docket is expected to be availabe online but not be published as part of a federal register notice. Therefore, contact lists, word of mouth, and email become the primary means of the limited dissemination with the advertised limited open docket comment period.

Please forward this letter to anyone else you deem as an appropriate contact.

Many thanks.

Bernice McArdle
PFDMA Executive Director
231 South LaSalle Street
Suite 2050
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: 312-946-6280

Response from Coast Guard on UPV PFD Petition for Rulemaking

Admiral Thad Allen Sworn in as the New Coast Guard Commandant
NMMA Congratulates Coast Guard’s New Leader

WASHINGTON, DC – United States Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen assumed the duties of Commandant of the Coast Guard today, May 25, to serve as the service’s 23rd commandant, replacing Admiral Thomas H. Collins. Allen, who replaced FEMA Director Michael Brown in Sept. 2005 as the federal point man during the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, has become the face of the Coast Guard for many through his appearances on media outlets while leading the coordination and response.

The nation’s largest recreational boating trade association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), represented by Monita Fontaine, NMMA Vice President of Government Relations; and Thomas Marhevko, NMMA Vice President of Engineering Standards, attended the Change of Command ceremony held at Ft. McNair. For Marhevko the event had personal ties; he was a classmate and graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with Allen in the Class of 1971.

“The Coast Guard is an important partner for recreational boaters and our industry,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA Vice President of Government Relations. “I’d like to congratulate Admiral Allen on this great honor; I know how proud he and his family must be today. The Coast Guard and the Nation will be well served by his proven leadership.”

Allen is widely admired for his straightforward leadership style and candor. He is a second generation Coast Guardsman, graduating in 1971 from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks Allen commanded the service’s East Coast response before overseeing the Coast Guard’s transition into the Department of Homeland Security.

“I can think of no greater honor and no better way to continue serving our Nation than through our Coast Guard, a Service whose embedded responsibilities impact every American,” Admiral Allen said during his statement to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee following his nomination to be Commandant. “My Coast Guard service has ingrained in me an abiding respect for its people, their work, and the value this work provides to the Nation. My pledge to the Committee and the public we serve is to effectively lead and improve a tested and trusted organization that provides value to people's lives every day.”

The change of command ceremony was held in the highest traditions and honors of the military services, and was attended by President George W. Bush, members of his cabinet, and members of Congress. In remarks at the ceremony, both President Bush and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff praised Admiral Allen and the outgoing commandant, Admiral Thomas H. Collins, for their service and leadership of the Coast Guard.

Tax Incentives Bill for Boating Safety Equipment Introduced
‘Common Sense’ Approach Lauded

Washington, DC – As boaters prepare to take to the water this summer, the nation’s largest recreational boating trade association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), is reminding people about the importance of incorporating boating safety to ensure these outings will be memorable for all the right reasons. Thanks to legislation introduced by Congressman John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), Congress will have the opportunity to give boating safety a huge boost this year.

Sweeney has introduced a bill, H.R. 5274, the Boating Safety Tax Incentive Act, that provides boat manufacturers an incentive to supply new boats with the most up-to-date lifejackets, which the new boat purchaser might not otherwise buy themselves. New lifejacket designs that provide better comfort and style are expected to significantly increase wear-rates, resulting in a decrease in boating fatalities. Under Sweeney’s bill, boat manufacturers would be allowed to deduct the cost of lifejackets and emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB’s) by providing the equipment free of charge to purchasers of new boats. EPIRB’s are highly effective small radio transmitters that search aircraft can use to quickly locate people and boats in need of rescue.

“The recreational boating industry is committed to promoting legislation that would increase boater safety,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA Vice President of Government Relations. “We’re grateful to Congressman Sweeney for his leadership in introducing this important legislation, and we will work diligently with him to pass this bill into law.”

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that in 2004 there were 676 recreational boating deaths. Approximately 90% of the victims who drowned were not wearing lifejackets. The Coast Guard estimates that approximately 431 lives could have been saved had boaters worn lifejackets. Additional lives would also likely have been saved had EPIRB technology been more widely used by boaters. Between 1982 and 2002, these devices enabled the rescue of nearly 15,000 people.

“As responsible corporate stewards, the businesses that comprise the recreational marine industry have traditionally taken a proactive approach to boating safety,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “As part of this effort, the industry is working to increase lifejacket wear in recreational boating and the usage of EPIRB’s; passage of this legislation would boost these efforts tremendously.”

Most recently, two rowers participating in the Woodvale Events Atlantic Rowing competition, billed as the "toughest rowing race in the world," were saved in January after their 24-foot rowboat capsized in the stormy Atlantic Ocean and left them clinging to a barnacle-encrusted, upturned hull. Rowers Sarah Kessans and Emily Kohl were able to get help by activating their EPIRB while stranded some 1000 miles east of Cuba. The activation alert was picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard, allowing a full-scale search and rescue operation to save the two racers.

Sweeney’s bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means where it awaits further action. NMMA strongly supports H.R. 5274 and urges Congress to pass the bill by the end of the 109th Congress.

US SAILING Applauds Transportation Security Administration For Amending CO2 Cylinder Policy

For boaters traveling by air to enjoy boating away from home, bringing along a CO2 cylinder for a self-inflatable life jacket through airport security was not an option due to a policy set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). However, after a recent request from a member of US SAILING's Safety-At-Sea Committee, the TSA announced that it had amended its policy to allow boaters to travel through security checkpoints at airports nationwide with a CO2 cylinder.

Boaters should be cautioned, however: while this change in TSA policy allows boaters to carry a cylinder through airport security, the decision on whether the cylinder can be taken on board a plane still lies with the airline on which the passenger is flying. US SAILING recommends that boaters check with their airlines directly to find out if the CO2 cylinder can be taken onboard.

The amended TSA policy calls for “a ‘Compressed Gas Cylinder Exception’ for both carry-on and checked baggage that allows two compressed gas cylinders, fitted into a self-inflating life-jacket, as well as two spare cartridges, with the approval of the aircraft operator.” This amendment by the TSA now is in line with policies that were already in place at the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The CO2 cylinder is a compressed gas cylinder that inflates a self-inflatable life jacket. The most common inflatable life jackets have a cord that needs to be pulled in order to activate the gas cylinder and inflate the device.

For the complete wording on TSA's policy, please visit the TSA website at

For more information on TSA’s amended policy and more background information on traveling with a CO2 cylinder, please visit



originally posted at »

Leland Limited, Inc. Announces Successful Registration to ISO 9001-2000

South Plainfield, New Jersey, Leland Limited Inc announces their successful registration to ISO 9001-2000 at the end of April. This registration is for the design and manufacture of disposable gas cylinders and related gas handling equipment. Leland currently produces and distributes gas cylinders for PFD and Life Raft applications in North and South America as well as USCG approved emergency strobe lights for PFD’s.

The company, now in its 41st year of operation is finishing the development of UHP (Ultra High Pressure) gas cylinders for inflation products to save on weight and space used by conventional CO2 filled cylinders. The UHP filled cylinders also represent a significant improvement in performance as the non liquefied gas used is highly compressed and operational temperature limits are allowing rapid inflation at sub-zero temperatures where CO2 would normally fail. This advancement will allow designers in the world of safety to create inflatable life saving devices that will operate in virtually any environment.

Leland Stanford, President and CEO is appointed to CFIVSAC (Commercial Vessel Industry Safety Advisory Committee) and now chairs the Communications Sub-committee which is tasked with providing USCG recommendations on methods and procedures to improve communications between industry stakeholders and the USCG. Stanford, a volunteer firefighter for 21 years in a busy NJ district, has been certified in various areas of rescue including high angle, elevator, vehicle, and will soon be certified in swift water rescue.

More information may be seen at or by writing

May 2006

EU, US and Ireland sign MRA on marine equipment

By IBI Magazine / David Foxwell

European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Ireland's Ambassador to the US, Noel Fahey have signed a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) on marine equipment between the EU and the US.

The agreement will facilitate trade in this sector: equipment certified as acceptable for the market of one party will circulate in the other without the need for additional testing or certification.

At the signing ceremony Pascal Lamy said: "Today's agreement is a clear example of our pragmatic approach to tearing down barriers to transatlantic trade. Through the MRA we will facilitate trade in a sector which represents Euro 1 billion worth of EU-US trade. Regulatory cooperation between us is the way forward to foster trade and investment. Now that that agreement on this item has been reached we can focus on the remaining issues under our common Positive Economic Agenda."

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said: "The US-EU Marine Equipment MRA represents an important new mechanism to facilitate transatlantic trade and promote closer US-EU regulatory co-operation. This agreement saves US manufacturers the time and expense of redundant product testing for the EU market and also promotes our efforts to improve the quality of international marine safety regulations."

The EU-US MRA is intended to facilitate transatlantic trade in marine equipment. Under its terms, designated products which comply with EU requirements will be accepted for sale in the US without any additional testing or certification and vice-versa.

The agreement covers 30 types of marine equipment ranging from life saving equipment (distress signals, rigid life rafts), fire protection equipment (flame retardant materials) and navigational equipment (GPS equipment, echo-sounding equipment).

The agreement also contemplates expanding the product scope in the future based on the results of international regulatory cooperation.


United States and European Community Sign Mutual Recognition Agreement on Marine Equipment


Over 85 people attended the event on Friday February 13th at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and a lively discussion took place for 2 hours. During this time an array of facts, figures, and challenges were presented to the audience, showcasing the different obstacles and barriers that face the different segments of the boating market.

Captain Scott Evans, Chief of Boating Safety, US Coast Guard, gave welcoming comments and outlined some US Coast Guard facts regarding boating fatalities. Chuck Hawley, VP of Product Development, West Marine was the able moderator. Panelists included Sam Wehr, US Coast Guard, Gordon Black, American Canoe Association, Matt Menashes, Professional Paddlesports Association, Chris Edmonston, Boat US Foundation and Bernice McArdle representing the PFDMA.

While the perception among some of the participants was that the Coast Guard had its eye on mandatory wear regulations, the workshop did indeed explore a lot of other options and approaches to increasing PFD wear. In some instances it would appear that education alone has not been as successful as was first thought.... so where to go from here? What was evident throughout the various presentations is that each boating category is a stand alone challenge, in terms of the emotional message it needs to impart to its constituents. What triggers anglers/hunters, would not necessarily be successful with the paddlesports industry, and what motivates watersports enthusiasts, is not what the sailing community would buy size (message) clearly does not fit all. Some ideas proposed included boat manufacturers featuring PFDs as part of their boat show displays, ensuring media buy-in to the philosophy that wearing a jacket is part of on-water fashion, securing boating and fishing celebrities and other cultural icons to promote the "normality" of wearing a jacket, in addition to highlighting the many types of comfortable, stylish, fashionable and unobtrusive variety of models available on the market today.

The workshop turned out to be a great format for industry to gather and discuss how it can team together and make a difference...

For a copy of the presentation given by Chuck Hawley, Moderator, please contact Bernice McArdle at

Coast Guard Issues Interim Rule for Child PFD Requirements

Earlier this year, the Coast Guard issued a new regulation, which mandated PFD use by children under 13. On March 27, the Coast Guard withdrew the new rule in response to questions raised by the State of Ohio regarding enforcement of the rule in states where state law and the new regulation are contradictory.

The Coast Guard issued an Interim Rule in the Federal Register in June, which will take effect December 23, 2002.

Effectively the rule remains the same, i.e. No person may operate a recreational vessel underway with any child under 13 years old aboard unless each such child is either 1) wearing an appropriate lifejacket approved by the Coast Guard, or 2) below decks or in an enclosed cabin.

Another provision to the Interim Rule was added by the Coast Guard, which will adopt State requirements (e.g. age, length of vessel etc.) in lieu of Federal requirements. (e.g. if a Federal Officer stops a vessel in a State where the State requirement for a child to wear a PFD is 6 and under, that Officer will adhere to the State law, as opposed to the Federal law of 13 and under).

PFDMA Hosts Another Successful Annual Conference

The PFD industry had another good turnout for their annual conference this year. PFMDA hosted their event at the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, FL June 15-18, 2002.

The PFDMA Conference Committee has, over the past couple of years, been working hard to ensure an even balance of both technical and marketing/consumer focused issues. As the world consolidates, so too does our industry, and it is now more important than ever to reach out and form strategic partnerships with related industries. The PFDMA has been, and continues to be, successful in this area.

PFDMA is Successful in Securing a Coast Guard Grant to Fund an Educational Outreach Program

Life jacket, life vest, personal floation device (pfd)... Whatever you call it, IT ONLY WORKS IF YOU WEAR IT !

The essence of all boating safety organizations is to save lives. The US Coast Guard has a more specific objective to reduce boating fatalities to below 400 by the year 2007, and it has largely focused on interventions to increase lifejacket wear to achieve this goal. The percentage of total boating fatalities due to drowning declined from 83% in 1993 to 70% in 1998, so clearly the combined efforts of coalition based boating safety initiatives is working, but there is still much work to do in this area!

Coast Guard Approval of Inflatable Personal Flotation Devices

The Final Rule on approval of inflatable PFDs was published in the Federal Register on March 28,1996. Manufacturers had anxiously awaited the rule, as it culminated many years of standards development involving a consensus committee of manufacturers, safety experts, the Coast Guard and Underwriters labs. Inflatable PFDs have been used widely by boaters in all types of waterways around the world for many years; the Final Rule gives U.S. boaters the Flexibility to also choose these lightweight life saving devices. Inflatables contain a carbon dioxide cartridge that inflates the vest either automatically upon contact with water or manually when a cord is pulled. Once inflated, the amount of buoyancy is equal to or greater than that provided by traditional lifejackets.