Misunderstanding exists across parts of Shipping regarding the application of a part of the IMO SOLAS FSS Code; the need for crew to test the contents of their CO2, FM-200® & NOVEC™ 1230 Gaseous Extinguishing Systems in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification intervals. These periodic inspections are conducted annually or biennially, and only by an Accredited Service Agent i.e. an external Marine Servicing Company. The reason IMO requires crew to test for contents in-between these is that the “ship sails alone”; it must act as its own emergency fire service.
IMO SOLAS FSS Code Chapter 5 Fixed gas fire extinguishing systems :,
188.8.131.52 Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers. It shall not be necessary to move the containers completely from their fixing positions for this purpose.
ISO 14520-1 : 2015 Gaseous Extinguishing Systems and some key extracts from it follow for your general interest :
The assumptions in these are that gaseous extinguishing/suppression systems must be checked for 5% loss of contents against the risk of leakage or accidental discharge. The regulations that underpin the pursuit of them support their leak identification every 6 months.
To ensure mitigation of the risks posed by unsuccessful discharge of marine fire extinguishing systems, a cheap and effective solution is to apply the IMO SOLAS FSS code by using innovative technology to ensure that the crew can test the contents of each CO2 cylinder in less than 30 seconds as part of routine maintenance. Gaseous Systems are highly pressurised at 49Bar or 720 psi and can leak as they exist in a dynamic state. Anecdotal evidence suggests that 20% of cylinders aboard ships are partially empty or empty. Portalevel® MAX Marine is an 8th generation hand-held ultrasonic liquid level indicator from Coltraco Ultrasonics with ABS Type Approval. This core product centres the Engine Room Firecheck package. Many people are still unaware of this method for testing the fixed fire extinguishing systems on-board vessels and instead rely on the traditional method of weighing or neglect to test the contents of ships CO2 systems until the annual certification check by shore-based contractors