Here’s hoping everyone got something out of last week’s issue, and it inspired at least some but hopefully all to check their vessel and workplace fire apparatus and equipment.
To follow on from last week a good starting point is to go back to fire basics and look at the fire triangle which includes Fuel – Heat – Oxygen.
What’s important to remember is if you remove just one of those items you have no fire!
Another point to remember is that a fire can get out of control within seconds and can generate heat in excess of 1,000°C.
This alone should encourage people to take action quickly unless you have some strange underlying desire to suffer serious injury and burns!
Here’s a few of the more common areas where the potential for a fire is quite high.
- Engine and/or machinery rooms: leaking fuel or hydraulic/oil lines and bags of rags
- The galley or kitchen: oil fires and stoves and other appliances left unattended
- Store rooms: paint, grease, oil fires, cardboard/paper fires, etc.
- Accommodation areas: mobile phone/tablet/laptop chargers and overloaded power boards
Leaking fuel or hydraulic lines are often the cause of fires in engine and machinery rooms. Fuel or oil leaking onto hot engine components, especially exhausts or turbo chargers is a fire about to happen.
Bags of damp or used rags left in engine or machinery rooms are also a recipe for fire.
The picture below shows a leaking fuel line and a bag of rags, both major causes of fires!.
The answer to these and most other potential fire hazards is regular inspections of fuel and hydraulic/oil lines and ensuring the safe storage and disposal of rags.
Oil fires on stoves are another common cause of fires as is leaving cooking appliances unattended which usually happens when someone calls the cook to help them with something.
Knowing how to use a fire blanket is vital but during training session we deliver unfortunately very few people actually know how to use them to extinguish and mitigate reignition.
Here’s what everyone should know about using fire blankets.
- Pull the tabs to remove it from the packet and open the fire blanket
- Take hold of the tabs and flick the top over your hands
- Approach the fire slowly with the blanket just below your eyes
- Place it gently over the fire. DO NOT throw it as this will fan the fire
- Then the step that just about everyone misses – turn off the power or gas supply!
- Leave it in place for at least 20 – 30 minutes or longer
- Remove it using the tabs to slowly slide it back towards you
Note that when you’ve used a fire blanket it cannot be re-used and must be replaced.
We have a major hate in the use of power boards and charging phones, tablets and laptops in accommodation areas.
These are known causes of fires not only onboard vessels but in offices and homes as well.
The picture below shows a power board that’s overheated and was the start of a fire!
People in their bunks get up and inadvertently throw bedding over the item which causes an extra build-up of heat and there’s your fire waiting to happen.
As per last week’s recommendation and for your safety and the safety of all others and vessel or premises ensure you have a procedure in place and that you undertake regular drills.
Secondly, monitor the use of extension leads and power boards to ensure they are not overload.
And remember, if you take away one side of the triangle (fuel, heat or oxygen) you extinguish the fire!
It’s a standing rule on the boats we manage, and in our homes that there is no charging of mobile phones, etc. in cabins or bedrooms and it’s a tip for you to follow!