A ships fixed extinguishing system protects the machinery spaces. They allow an engine room fire to be responded to, with minimal risk to the vessels crew. However, the fixed extinguishing system has to be used properly and for this, maintenance is essential. Too often CO2 has been discharged without securing openings to the fire area first. The CO2 will leak through them aided by the thermal currents from the fire. The recent Gard publication states that, “Emergency response to engine room fires can be .. more efficient if the crew is properly trained in the safe use of the ships fire extinguishing system.. For the typical engine room fire involving flammable liquids it is important to introduce the required quantities of CO2 quickly to limit the escalation of the fire…The extinguishing capabilities of gas can be compromised if the integrity and tightness of the boundaries of the protected space are not sound … by excessive leakage of gas through open or improperly closed doors, vents or ventilation ducts.” If the seals to any of these are not sound, closing them will not entirely deal with this problem. The crew have to ensure that the CO2 contents exist, that the protected space can be sealed and that the pipework used to discharge the CO2 are clear of particulates that can clog up the nozzles and reduce the required design concentration of CO2 (or any clean agent such as NOVEC™ 1230 ) to the point where it cannot deal with the fire event.
Industry professionals have told us anecdotes of finding fire suppression system cylinders empty or only partially full, due to mismanagement and a lack of due diligence in complying with the regulations stated above. Additionally, there are anecdotes of wilful misdemeanours conducted by unprofessional fire servicing companies who failed to properly check cylinders. The contents of a cylinder have to be present for release in the event of the fire and therefore the Portalevel® MAX Marine offers innovative technology which cylinder weighing cannot. Bad industry practice is unacceptable when fire risk may have catastrophic results due to risk to life, downtime in operation due to ship safety and repair work and incalculable reputational damage.
Due to the quicker and easier method of servicing a cylinder with this device, and results which can be easily repeated for reliability and accuracy, Portalevel® MAX Marine allows vessels to be in full compliance with the FSS code in-between the annual certification intervals, because the crew will be happy to conduct contents checking themselves at sea. IMO SOLAS FSS Chapter 5 point 188.8.131.52. states: "means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers".