Could you afford the financial and reputational damage of an engine fire onboard?

Fires on board ships can be devastating, to crew, vessel and cargo. Fire safety standards on board cannot afford to slip.

At sCould you afford the financial and reputational damage of an engine fire onboard?

Fires on board ships can be devastating, to crew, vessel and cargo. Fire safety standards on board cannot afford to slip.

At sea, fire poses one the of biggest threat to ships. Sailing alone and at sea throughout the year, and without the ability to call upon the emergency services as a land-based asset might.

The financial effects from onboard engine room fires can run into millions of dollars. Often, after an engine room fire, a ship can rarely proceed under its own power leading to salvage, repairs, downtime and cancellations, all highly costly. Not just financially, but engine room fires can be detrimental to the integrity of a shipping company when the life of the passengers and crew are threatened by a fire.

People are priceless

Given that 400 million European passengers every year entrust themselves to the safety of the ship that they travel on, any accidents on board are serious threats to the safety of those passengers. About 6 per cent of fires on ro-ro passenger ships have resulted in loss of life or serious injury and every year. In December 2014, 11 people were killed and several were injured in a fire aboard the Norman Atlantic ro-ro passenger ship. Chances must not be taken when lives are at risk, and when a vessel is at sea, this is all the time.

“All Aboard”: Fire safety onboard has to be taken up by us all across the industry

The UK P&I Club recommend that the high risk threat of engine room fires is recognised and that ship’s crew pay particular attention to training and the care, maintenance and correct operation of all fire fighting equipment. The issue goes further as the lack of knowledge of how to effectively control a fire has created difficulty in the past.

  1. In one case, fire fighting attempts were hindered by the ineffectiveness of the fire smothering system because of a lack of understanding of its correct method of deployment and lack of proper maintenance.
  2. In another occasion, a Chief Engineer did not operate the CO2 system release mechanism correctly and, as a result, only one cylinder (of 43) was discharged which had a negligible effect on the fire. It is possible that he released a cylinder from the main bank of cylinders instead of a pilot cylinder in the mistaken belief that this would trigger the release of the requisite number of cylinders.
  3. In other cases It was found that the filter cover bolts were improperly tightened and there was a lack of proper inspection routines.

3 key areas for regular inspection is important

The ungoverned space is the area where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety. This life-threatening issue must be dealt with, with specific regard to loss of contents in fixed fire extinguishing systems and need for improvements to room integrity testing.

The neglect of the basic routine testing and maintenance of 3 key areas substantially increases the risk of an onboard engine room fire:

  1.  the cylinder agent content in the fire extinguishing installations, commonly CO2, FM-200®, Novec™1230, halons;
  2. the associated pipework;
  3. and the room integrity of the protected space into which the suppressant agent discharges;

Some smart Safeship® solutions

  1. Ultrasonic liquid level indicator: to identify the agent liquid level in under 30 seconds with 1 competent user*
    1. Compared to 15 minutes by laboriously weighing with 2 personnel, qho must be qualified in fire safety inspections, which most crew are not
    2. Complies with IMO SOLAS FSS Code 2.1.1.3 which requires crew to have the means onboard to test the installation agent content
  1. Ultrasonic thickness gauge, ultrasonic flow meter, acoustic emissions bearing indicator: all efficiently inspect and provide condition monitoring of
    1. metal work,
    2. pipework and
    3. rotating machinery

3. Ultrasonic watertight and airtight integrity indicator: to identify leak sites in compartments. To ensure that the protected space is able to withstand the pressure of the agent when it discharges

and that the compartment will hold that agent for the design concentration required to suppress a fire

The danger is shown in the statistics. Maintaining high standards of fire safety practice does not have to be expensive or time consuming. This is a call

for awareness of the problem and action to be taken now.

ea, fire poses one the of biggest threat to ships. Sailing alone and at sea throughout the year, and without the ability to call upon the emergency services as a land-based asset might.

The financial effects from onboard engine room fires can run into millions of dollars. Often, after an engine room fire, a ship can rarely proceed under its own power leading to salvage, repairs, downtime and cancellations, all highly costly. Not just financially, but engine room fires can be detrimental to the integrity of a shipping company when the life of the passengers and crew are threatened by a fire.

People are priceless

Given that 400 million European passengers every year entrust themselves to the safety of the ship that they travel on, any accidents on board are serious threats to the safety of those passengers. About 6 per cent of fires on ro-ro passenger ships have resulted in loss of life or serious injury and every year. In December 2014, 11 people were killed and several were injured in a fire aboard the Norman Atlantic ro-ro passenger ship. Chances must not be taken when lives are at risk, and when a vessel is at sea, this is all the time.

“All Aboard”: Fire safety onboard has to be taken up by us all across the industry

The UK P&I Club recommend that the high risk threat of engine room fires is recognised and that ship’s crew pay particular attention to training and the care, maintenance and correct operation of all fire fighting equipment. The issue goes further as the lack of knowledge of how to effectively control a fire has created difficulty in the past.

  1. In one case, fire fighting attempts were hindered by the ineffectiveness of the fire smothering system because of a lack of understanding of its correct method of deployment and lack of proper maintenance.
  2. In another occasion, a Chief Engineer did not operate the CO2 system release mechanism correctly and, as a result, only one cylinder (of 43) was discharged which had a negligible effect on the fire. It is possible that he released a cylinder from the main bank of cylinders instead of a pilot cylinder in the mistaken belief that this would trigger the release of the requisite number of cylinders.
  3. In other cases It was found that the filter cover bolts were improperly tightened and there was a lack of proper inspection routines.

3 key areas for regular inspection is important

The ungoverned space is the area where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety. This life-threatening issue must be dealt with, with specific regard to loss of contents in fixed fire extinguishing systems and need for improvements to room integrity testing.

The neglect of the basic routine testing and maintenance of 3 key areas substantially increases the risk of an onboard engine room fire:

  1.  the cylinder agent content in the fire extinguishing installations, commonly CO2, FM-200®, Novec™1230, halons;
  2. the associated pipework;
  3. and the room integrity of the protected space into which the suppressant agent discharges;

Some smart Safeship® solutions

  1. Ultrasonic liquid level indicator: to identify the agent liquid level in under 30 seconds with 1 competent user*
    1. Compared to 15 minutes by laboriously weighing with 2 personnel, qho must be qualified in fire safety inspections, which most crew are not
    2. Complies with IMO SOLAS FSS Code 2.1.1.3 which requires crew to have the means onboard to test the installation agent content
  1. Ultrasonic thickness gauge, ultrasonic flow meter, acoustic emissions bearing indicator: all efficiently inspect and provide condition monitoring of
    1. metal work,
    2. pipework and
    3. rotating machinery

3. Ultrasonic watertight and airtight integrity indicator: to identify leak sites in compartments. To ensure that the protected space is able to withstand the pressure of the agent when it discharges

and that the compartment will hold that agent for the design concentration required to suppress a fire

The danger is shown in the statistics. Maintaining high standards of fire safety practice does not have to be expensive or time consuming. This is a call for awareness of the problem and action to be taken now.

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