Gaseous extinguishing instillations are difficult systems.

There are few who understand them in all their complexity. Vessels extinguishing instillation are its essential defence against the risk of fire at sea. The main factor that needs to be understood is that they must be able to actuate, or release their gas, in the event of a fire. Surely an extinguishing instillation should extinguish? This may seem like an obvious point, but on further investigation the difficulties with this statement arise. What if the extinguishing instillation cannot actuate fully because there isn’t enough gas within the cylinder? Gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use, shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 2.1.1.3:

“Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”

Often this is misunderstood, this code specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection. However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders.

Adding to this, the details of their leakage within the regulations which is troubling. ISO 14520-1 clearly states that:

“If a container shows a loss of agent quantity or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 5 %, it shall be refilled or replaced”

Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of the vessel then a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire. In a recent article by the Maritime Executive, Captain Madden urged crews to routinely and properly inspect and test fixed firefighting systems; “too often they are found with… concerns about leakage”. The only way to determine a cylinder is free from leakage is to check its contents. But if the crew cannot weigh their own cylinders, because they are not certified to do so, then how is it possible?

CO2 UK Marine Equipment Directive (MED) UK/EU legislation with US Coast Guard Mutual Recognition 7.3.2.6:

“Means should be provided to verify the liquid level in all the cylinders, either by weighing the cylinders or by using a suitable liquid level detector.”

Our expertise

We pride ourselves in researching, designing and manufacturing the most up to date, efficient and hardy ultrasonic liquid level detectors. The MAX Marine is designed primarily for maritime applications where either third party service companies or the vessels’ crew themselves inspect large fire suppression systems of up to 600 cylinders. The ease of operation in comparison to weighing, increases the ability of more regular and frequent checks, improving fire safety management onboard. Our innovative method of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people laboriously weighing. Using ultrasonic technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the extinguishing system- testing is quicker and easier.

Portalevel® MAX enables its users to go above and beyond minimal regulations compliance, thus becoming industry leaders. It’s not just us that say we lead the industry, we have recently been shortlisted for the Seatrade Cruise Awards, ‘Supplier of the Year’, because of our supply to Carnival Cruises. Carnival Cruises chose Coltraco to supply the Fleet with the UL-Listed and ABS approved Portalevel® MAX Marine. The Carnival Fleet is made up of 25 vessels, varying in size from 70,000-120,000 dwt, accounting for 21% of the worldwide cruise market. The safety of their ships is integral for the continuation of their business success and it can be for yours too.

Combined with the MAX Marine, The Portasteele® is an advanced calculator application, that converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on an ultrasonic non-destructive liquid level indicator device into the agent weight/mass. Furthermore, the Portasteele® can convert an expected agent weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be.

The maintenance of instillations has to be a priority. It need not be expensive or time consuming, we will support you in ensuring the safety of your crew and vessel. Tragic case studies of incidents such as MSC Flaminia prove that fire safety onboard must be a priority. We are proud that we can make your critical safety processes more effectove. There is no reason to minimally comply with the regulations and chance the effectiveness of the gaseous extinguishing instillation. We are here for you.

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