This is a very important question because over the last 12 months I’ve undertaken several Safety Audits and conducted multiple onboard training sessions where fire safety was compromised.
Here’s a short list of things we’ve discovered in the course of our activities:
- Empty fire extinguishers
- Fire extinguishers not serviced
- In one case the engine room fire suppression system bottle was empty
- Air shut offs not functioning. Often these had been painted over during refit
- Air shut offs with damaged dampeners
- In another case an air shut off that had a bolt from a fitting located in the vent pipe which prevented the dampener from closing
- Inoperable fuel shut offs
- In one case a fuel shut off that had to be accessed through a hole in the deck with a fitting that could not be removed.
All of the above put the vessels at risk in the event of a fire onboard, especially in the engine room.
Fire extinguishers that have been discharged or otherwise inoperable should never be onboard, they must be serviced when due.
Check the gauge on a monthly basis and if it is in the RECHARGE section, get it recharge immediately!
Air shut offs that do not fully operate put your vessel at risk. You need to check them for full operation regularly, especially after a refit where painting has been undertaken.
The picture below was supplied by AMSA as an example of a damaged air dampener.
The location and operation of your fuel shut offs is also critical for your safety in the event of an engine room fire. These should also be checked regularly for effective operation.
The picture below is an example of a cable operated fuel shut off.
For the safety of your crew and vessel we strongly recommend the following be undertaken regularly…
- Check fire extinguishers monthly and have them serviced when due
- Test your air shut offs regularly by actually operating them
- Test your fuel shut offs regularly by actually operating them
Replace or repair anything that does not function properly and do it now!
Our last recommendation here is to make sure ALL your crew know where these things are and how to operate them!
For dry chemical (powder) fire extinguishers take them out of their brackets and turn them upside down every couple of months. This ensures the powder is not compacted and they will operate when needed.
Ensure all your crew members take a walk around your vessel and familiarise themselves with the location and operation of fire extinguishers onboard.
Next week – we will follow-up with more about Fire!