Tag Archive for: Fire

It’s amazing that when we do training onboard vessels that so many of the crew can’t identify the different fire extinguishers. That’s a big problem because not being able to identify different extinguishers and what their purpose can be a major problem.

All fire extinguishers are colour coded with a band that identifies the type and classes of fires they are suitable for. So, in this newsletter we’ll list the most common types of extinguishers used on vessels.

Firstly, let’s look at the different classes of fires.

The Classes of Fire

Class A fires: combustible materials: caused by flammable solids, such as wood, paper, and fabric
Class B fires: flammable liquids: such as petrol, turpentine or paint
Class C fires: flammable gases: like LPG, hydrogen, butane or methane
Class D fires: combustible metals: chemicals such as magnesium, aluminium or potassium
Class E fires: electrical equipment: once the electrical item is removed, the fire changes class
Class F fires: cooking oils: typically, a chip-pan fire

An easy way to determine which fire extinguisher to use is by the different coloured bands on the top of each cylinder. This coloured band tells us what type of fire extinguisher it is therefore allowing us to recognise which fire to use it for.

The 3 most common fire extinguishers used on vessels and our recommendations.

Dry Powder or Dry Chemical

Dry Powder extinguishers are identified by a WHITE band and are good for all classes of fires. These extinguishers are our best recommendation for general use on vessels. We strongly recommend these for use in galleys, accommodation areas, wheelhouses and all other areas. In land based operations they are also the best general use extinguisher. Also ideal for use in offices and factories.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

CO2 extinguishers are identified by a BLACK band and have been designed for Class E fires. Designed specifically for electrical equipment such as switchboards, electrical machinery, etc. These extinguishers work by removing the oxygen from the environment therefore there is a risk of asphyxiation especially in confined spaces. We recommend these for wheelhouses and other areas where there are switchboards or other electrical machinery.

Foam

Foam extinguishers are identified by a BLUE band are used for Class A and Class B fires. They are exceptionally good with flammable liquid fires such as gasoline, petroleum greases and oil based paints. It is NOT advised to use a foam extinguisher for Class F fires in other words fires involving fats and oils. We recommend foam extinguishers for engine rooms and other areas where machinery is located.

Wet Chemical

Wet Chemical extinguishers are identified by YELLOW band and are used for Class A and Class F fires. These are not seen so often in vessels, but they are ideal for use in galleys and commercial kitchens where there is a risk of a fire involving cooking oils and fats. Wet Chemical extinguishers must not be used on electrical fires. We recommend these extinguishers in galleys of vessels that carry passengers and have a galley or food preparation areas.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you ensue all of your crew or relevant workers know how to identify fire extinguishers and the Classes of fires they are designed to deal with.

Secondly we also highly recommend all crew and workers know how to use a fire extinguisher. Sadly, we find that so many people don’t know how to effectively use fire extinguishers and say we’ll read the instruction when needed. By then it’s too late!


Tip

Remember , it’s vital that you can identify different fire extinguisher types and what they are designed to be used for. This applies not only onboard but is critical knowledge for everyday life!

If you would like a chart identifying the different types of fire extinguishers and their applications just email our office and we’ll send you one by email for FREE!

If you see smoke does it mean there’s a fire?

No but it may be a fire about to start!

A few causes of smoke

Smoke can be from a wide range of sources, some of which include:

  1. Slipping belts
  2. Leaking exhausts or turbo chargers
  3. Electrical fittings, fixtures and equipment
  4. Faulty clutches
  5. Overheating oil
  6. The cook burning the toast, oops it’s time to get a new cook!
  7. And many other sources you can probably think of

While it may be just smoke now, in many cases it’s likely to be a fire about to start.

So…how do you deal with a smoke situation when you see it?

It’s simple, treat it as a fire because if it’s not now, there’s a high chance it’s going to be very shortly.

I don’t know a Master that would get upset if you raised the alarm for a fire and they found out it wasn’t a fire, in fact, I think most would be pleased.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

My recommendations for dealing with smoke are:

  1. Treat it like it is a fire
  2. Keep all exhaust clamps and fittings properly secured
  3. Monitor electrical fittings, fixtures and equipment
  4. Ensure oil is maintained at the recommend temperature

Tip

My top tips are:

  • Undertake regular inspections of items that have the potential to cause smoke or become a fire
  • Don’t use old cooking oil or fats. This not only cause smoke it’s a fire hazard in itself
  • Ensure all crew know where fire extinguishers are stowed because if it turns into a fire you’re going to need them!

A fire in any area can very quickly become can be a serious emergency situation! If not contained quickly the fire can go from ignition to a major fire in a matter of seconds.

Types and causes of fires

Think about what’s about onboard your vessel that has the potential to become a fire or a source of a fire!

A fire onboard can instill instant terror and has the potential to cause spine-tingling, knee shaking semi-paralysis that can freeze you momentarily in place!

The most common cause of fires onboard vessels according to insurance company statistics is electrical faults.

Some of the most common causes of fires are:

  1. Faulty wiring
  2. Faulty power sockets
  3. Faulty distribution boards
  4. Faulty or overloaded power boards
  5. Faulty or damaged power leads
  6. Fuel vapours
  7. Hydrogen gas from batteries
  8. Hot works
  9. Charging mobile phones, tablets and computers
  10. Power leads
  11. LPG
  12. And many other potential fire sources

Electrical fires

Electrical fires can be caused by a number of issues including but not limited to:

  • Chaffed or otherwise damaged wiring
  • Failure in power boards and/or circuit breakers
  • Power outlets and extension leads due to overloading
  • Power leads run through doors, windows and hatches that get damaged

 Dealing with fires in other areas of your vessel

  • At the first sign of a fire raise the alarm – yell “FIRE FIRE FIRE”
  • Assess the situation: Is it safe to approach the fire or enter the cabin or compartment
  • For fires in a cabin, compartment or hold test the heat by putting the back of your hand on the hatch or door. If it’s very hot do not attempt to open the door or hatch
  • Position the vessel according to prevailing conditions
  • Activate fire pump (if installed)
  • If safe to approach the fire or enter the space ensure you have a back-up person then enter to assess the situation
  • Fight the fire using the appropriate fire extinguisher
  • DO NOT try to extinguish the fire with water where electricity is on
  • Use the fire or deck hose for boundary cooling (if fitted)
  • If the fire becomes uncontrollable and you’re unable to extinguish the fire GET OUT, exit the area and if in a cabin, compartment of hold close the door/hatch
  • Conduct a head count to ensure all persons are accounted for and apply First Aid if necessary
  • Transmit an emergency call relevant to the situation.
  • Shut any machinery and/or electrical equipment in the space if applicable
  • Continue to monitor the situation and do not open any doors or hatches until you are sure the chance of re-ignition is minimised
  • If necessary prepare to abandon ship
  • If in danger of losing the vessel transmit a MAYDAY message or call the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) on 02 6230 6811
  • Abandon ship if necessary

The above steps for dealing with a general fire in other areas of your vessel and are the basic general steps to put in place. Your procedure for dealing with fires in other areas of your vessel will depend on a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Do you have a fire pump or deck hose installed?
  • Where you locate your fire extinguishers
  • What type of fire extinguishers you have available
  • How many fire extinguishers are available
  • What you store in the space
  • How many crew are onboard
  • And any number of other factors specific to your vessel

You don’t want your vessel to end up like this……

Reducing the risk of fire onboard your vessel

  1. Regular inspections and maintenance is essential to preventing a fire on your vessel
  2. Avoid DIY on marine electrics. Incorrectly installed electrical components are more likely to cause a fire and…   it’s illegal!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

My 3 prevent a fire on your vessel recommendations are:

  1. Ensure you undertake regular inspections of electrical systems and where required carry out repairs or maintenance
  2. Keep loads on electrical outlets within the rated capacity of the outlet. Do not overload power sockets or boards
  3. Ensure your fire extinguishers are well maintained and in service at all times because…you never know when you’ll need them!

Tip

My top tips for preventing fires are:

  • The biggest tip of all is to ensure all your crew have appropriate training in fire response based on your vessel and its operations
  • All your crew know where fire extinguishers are located, what class of fires they are suitable for and how to use them
  • Keeping all areas free of potential fire hazards

By following these simple tips, the chances of a fire onboard your vessel is reduced significantly.


crew training log bookLog Books and Training!

Crew training is an invaluable resource for you and your business.  As you know, the crew’s safety is paramount, but do they know what to do in a fire and how to save themselves and your vessel? You should have a log book keeping track of every single crew member!

Shorlink can provide on-hand training specific to your vessel so you have peace of mind that the training has been completed, and completed correctly.

Our Emergency Response training packages are aimed at ensuring you can respond to emergency situations safely and efficiently!

  • Onboard emergency training (drills) including man overboard
  • Small Ships Emergency Training
  • Vessel safety inductions
  • Challenge Testing
  • Hands-On Flare and Extinguisher Training

Contact us today for more details!

 

A fire in the engine room can very quickly become can be a catastrophic one! If not contained quickly the fire can go from ignition to a major fire in a matter of seconds.

Types and causes of engine room fires

One of the common causes is bags of rags, especially used ones left in the engine room. They will often ignite for no apparent reason and if not dealt with quickly can lead to a major fire quickly.

Think about what’s in your engine room, there’s engine and gearbox oil, often hydraulic oil, fuel, rags, grease, a combination of gases and many other things that are fuel for fires!

The common types of fires normally encountered in engine room fires are:

  1. Oil based
  2. Electrical

Oil based fires are often caused by a build-up of oil &/or grease on items in your engine room or in the bilge and ignited by a simple spark!

  • Too high a temperature in the deep fryer or saucepan
  • Highly flammable vegetable oils
  • Old, more flammable oil in the deep fryer or saucepan
  • Fat deposits in and around the flue and ventilation ducts
  • Fat deposits in and around the cooking area
  • Leaving the galley unattended

The most common causes of electrical fires in your engine room are:

  1. Faulty or damaged wiring
  2. Faulty electrical fittings or fixtures
  3. Faults in power distribution boards
  4. Fuel leaks
  5. Oil leaks
  6. Exhaust leaks
  7. Turbo charger leaks
  8. Misaligned bearings that overheat
  9. Rags
  10. And many other items!

Chaffed, exposed or even old or outdated wiring often causes electrical fires. If the wiring does not have the capacity to handle electrical appliances being used you’re heading for a fire situation.

Simple steps in dealing with engine room fires

Dealing with an engine room fire on your boat will depend on whether you have a fire suppression system fitted or not. below I’ll outline the basic steps for dealing with an engine room fire.

With a Suppression system fitted

  • At the first sign of a fire either by an alarm system or other means raise the alarm – yell “FIRE FIRE FIRE”
  • Assess the situation: Is it safe to enter the engine room. Test the heat by putting the back of your hand on the hatch or door. If it’s very hot do not attempt to open the door or hatch
  • Position the vessel according to prevailing conditions
  • Activate fire pump (if installed)
  • If safe to enter ensure you have a back-up person at the engine room entry then enter to assess the situation
  • Fight the fire using the appropriate fire extinguisher
  • DO NOT try to extinguish the fire with water where electricity is on
  • Use the fire or deck hose for boundary cooling
  • If the fire becomes uncontrollable and you’re unable to extinguish the fire GET OUT, exit the engine room and close the door/hatch
  • Conduct a head count to ensure all persons have exited the engine room
  • Transmit an emergency call relevant to the situation.
  • Shut down all machinery in the engine room
  • Close all fuel and air shut offs and turn of engine rooms fans if applicable
  • Release the fire suppression system
  • Continue to monitor the situation and do not open the engine room door/hatch until you are sure the chance of re-ignition is minimised
  • Prepare to abandon ship
  • If in danger of losing the vessel transmit a MAYDAY message or call the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) on 02 6230 6811
  • Abandon ship if necessary

No Fire Suppression system installed

  • At the first sign of a fire either by an alarm system or other means raise the alarm – yell “FIRE FIRE FIRE”
  • Assess the situation: Is it safe to enter the engine room. Test the heat by putting the back of your hand on the hatch or door. If it’s very hot do not attempt to open the door or hatch
  • Position the vessel according to prevailing conditions
  • Activate fire pump (if installed)
  • If safe to enter ensure you have a back-up person at the engine room entry then enter to assess the situation
  • Fight the fire using the appropriate fire extinguisher
  • DO NOT try to extinguish the fire with water where electricity is on
  • Use the fire or deck hose for boundary cooling
  • If the fire becomes uncontrollable and you’re unable to extinguish the fire GET OUT, exit the engine room and close the door/hatch
  • Conduct a head count to ensure all persons have exited the engine room
  • Transmit an emergency call relevant to the situation.
  • Shut down all machinery in the engine room
  • Close all fuel and air shut offs and turn of engine rooms fans if applicable
  • Continue to monitor the situation and do not open the engine room door/hatch until you are sure the chance of re-ignition is minimised
  • Prepare to abandon ship
  • If in danger of losing the vessel transmit a MAYDAY message or call the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) on 02 6230 6811
  • Abandon ship if necessary

The above steps for dealing with an engine room fire are the basic general steps to put in place. Your procedure for dealing with engine room fires will depend on a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Do you have a fire suppression system fitted in the engine room?
  • Do you have a fire pump or deck hose installed?
  • Where you locate your fire extinguishers
  • What type of fire extinguishers you have available in the engine room
  • What you store in the engine room
  • How many crew are onboard
  • And any number of other factors specific to your vessel

You don’t want your engine room to end up like this!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

My 3 prevent a fire  in your engine room recommendations are:

  1. Ensure your engine room is kept clean and free (as much as possible) from oil and grease build ups
  2. Undertake regular inspections of the following:
  • fuel systems
  • exhaust systems
  • electrical systems
  • hydraulic systems
  1. Ensure your fire extinguishers and suppression system (where fitted) are well maintained and in service at all times because…you never know when you’ll need them!

Tip

My top tips for preventing engine room fires are:

  • Regularly check the operation of both fuel and air shut offs
  • Don’t leave bags of rags (especially used ones) in the engine room
  • The biggest tip of all is to ensure all your crew have appropriate training in fire response based on your vessel and its operations.

By following these simple tips, the chances of a fire in your engine room are reduced significantly.

Log Books – Fire Safety Manual

Fire safety manuals are required for vessels who carry passengers and some cargo vessels.

Our fire safety manuals are vessel specific and developed based on the vessel and its operations. Manuals may include Fire control plan, fire training manual and fire safety operational booklet as required by the NSCV Part C Section 4.

POA based on vessel and operations!

A fire in the galley is not an unusual incident but can be a catastrophic one! If not contained quickly any fire can go from ignition to major in a matter of seconds.

Types and causes of galley fires

One of the common causes is someone is cooking, and they get called to help with something out of the galley. They go to help thinking they’ll only be a minute but, a minute turns into 5 and when they return to the galley there’s a fire!

The 2 types of fires normally encountered in a galley are:

  1. Oil based
  2. Electrical

Oil based fires are usually from cooking oil or grease with the most common causes being:

  • Too high a temperature in the deep fryer or saucepan
  • Highly flammable vegetable oils
  • Old, more flammable oil in the deep fryer or saucepan
  • Fat deposits in and around the flue and ventilation ducts
  • Fat deposits in and around the cooking area
  • Leaving the galley unattended

The most common causes of electrical fires in a galley are:

  1. Faulty outlets or appliances
  2. Light fixtures
  3. Wiring

Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets and old, outdated appliances. Other fires are started by faults in appliance cords, receptacles and switches.

Light fixtures, lamps and light bulbs are another common reason for electrical fires. Installing a bulb with a wattage that is too high for the lamps and light fixtures is a leading cause of electrical fires.

Chaffed, exposed or even old or outdated wiring often causes electrical fires. If the wiring does not have the capacity to handle electrical appliances being used you’re heading for a fire situation.

🔥 Simple steps in dealing with galley fires 🔥

 

Oil based fires

  • Raise the alarm – yell “FIRE FIRE FIRE”
  • Assess the situation: Is the fire controllable and will a fire blanket do the job or do you need a fire extinguisher
  • If a fire blanket will work then place it over the fryer or pot then turn of the heat sauce (gas or electricity); or
  • If it’s in a saucepan or pot put the lid on it
  • If a fire extinguisher is needed use a Dry Powder extinguisher to control the fire
  • DO NOT try to extinguish the fire with water
  • If practical use boundary cooling
  • If the fire becomes uncontrollable and you’re unable to extinguish the fire GET OUT, exit the cabin and close the door, shut down the power and air conditioning (if installed) to the cabin
  • Transmit an emergency call relevant to the situation.
  • If in danger of losing the vessel transmit a MAYDAY message or call the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) on 02 6230 6811
  • Prepare to abandon ship if necessary

Electrical fires

  • Raise the alarm – yell “FIRE FIRE FIRE”
  • Isolate (turn off) the electricity to the appliance or the entire area if required
  • If a fire blanket will work then place it over the item
  • If a fire extinguisher is needed use a CO2 if available or a Dry Powder extinguisher to control the fire
  • If practical use boundary cooling
  • DO NOT try to extinguish the fire with water unless you’re 100% sure the electricity has been isolated
  • If the fire becomes uncontrollable and you’re unable to extinguish the fire GET OUT, exit the cabin and close the door, shut down the power and air conditioning (if installed) to the cabin
  • Transmit an emergency call relevant to the situation.
  • If in danger of losing the vessel transmit a MAYDAY message or call the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) on 02 6230 6811
  • Prepare to abandon ship if necessary

Shorlink’s Recommendation

My 3 prevent a fire recommendations are:

  1. Never use an appliance with a worn or frayed cord, which can send heat onto combustible surfaces like floors, curtains, and rugs that can start a fire.
  2. Never, at any time or for any reason leave the galley when cooking
  3. Undertake regular electrical safety inspections

Tip

My top tips for preventing oil or grease fires in the galley are:

  • NEVER leave the galley when frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. The number one cause of galley fires is unattended cooking!
  • Be alert and do not use the stove if you are sleepy of have consumed alcohol
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove top
  • Ensure the galley is kept clean and free from grease build-up
  • Keep the oil or grease at the recommended temperature. If you see smoke or the oil smells it’s an indication it’s too hot

By follow these simple tips the chances of a fire in your galley are reduced significantly.

If you want to rate onboard incidents fire would be my number one in terms of not only what can happen but how fast it happen as well. A fire can go from ignition to catastrophic in minutes or even seconds in the right environment.

As fire is such a big subject I’ll deal with specific fires over the next few weeks to ensure we cover as many aspects of dealing with fires as possible in the upcoming newsletters.

Any fire onboard represents a dangerous situation that must be dealt with immediately and efficiently. Every second wasted in not containing a fire has the potential to led to a catastrophic result including major damage to or loss of vessel and serious injury or loss of life.

When we talk to most people about onboard fires they immediately think of engine room fires but…it’s not the only place where fires occur.

Other areas where fires occur include but are not limited to…

  • other machinery rooms apart from the engine room
  • storage rooms or compartments
  • passenger areas
  • accommodation areas
  • galley
  • cafeteria
  • smoking areas
  • garbage bins
  • wheelhouse
  • electrical systems
  • and many other areas

In fact, the one area where we see many fires is in the galley. Someone is cooking and they get called away to help and leave the galley unattended. The result is a fire develops and bingo: you’ve got a major problem!

When dealing with a fire you need to consider a number of factors, these include…

  • where the fire is: e.g., engine room, galley, etc…
  • the fuel source: e.g., oil, gas, electrical, fuel, etc…
  • what equipment is available for dealing with the particular fire: i.e., will a portable fire extinguisher do the job, is there a fire suppression system fitted, fire blanket, etc.
  • what is the state of the fire: i.e., is it a small fire or has it developed into a major fire;
  • what is the access: is it safe to enter the space?
  • what back-up appliances are there: extra fire extinguishers, fire hose, deck hose, etc…

Once you’ve answered those questions you then have to refer to your emergency plan (more on that in latter issues) to see who has been assigned what duties.

On ships specific crew are assigned to set tasks but on domestic commercial vessels (DCV) this is usually not the case. In so many sectors crew are a transient bunch and as such vessel specific training becomes an issue.

While all crew members should be able to deal with fires and other emergency situations onboard DCV’s our onboard training sessions have clearly identified this is not the case.

In recent training sessions many crew members could not identify the different types of fire extinguishers and worse still didn’t know where they were onboard. Just to make matters worse many had trouble removing the extinguishers from the bracket!

This in itself is a recipe for disaster so my question is how well trained are your crew members?

Being able to identify what type of fire it is (e.g., electrical, oil, combustible liquids, etc.) is the first step but from there it’s critical to know what fire extinguisher to use for specific fire types. Not all fire extinguishers are suitable for all fires.

For example, a CO2 extinguisher is used for electrical fires but has limited effect on other types of fires. I’ve provided a table below as a guide for what portable fire extinguisher to use for what type of fire.

 

Most commercial vessels are fitted with heat/smoke detectors to warn of fires in the engine room and vessels carrying berthed passengers have them also, but I’ve known these to fail!

No matter where the fire is or how small it is the person seeing it needs to raise the alarm. For crew members they need to take immediate action to extinguish or at least control the fire until other crew members arrives.

No matter the size of your vessel or its operations you first need to decide who is going to do what but that will depend on the number of crew and size of vessel.

No matter if you operate a fishing vessel with only 2 crew or a passenger vessel with deckhands and hospitality based staff it’s critical that all know how to identify and deal with different types of fires.

No matter how big, or small your vessel there are a number of generic steps for fires that should be followed, these are:

  1. notify the Master (if alarms have not gone off)
  2. emergency message (if necessary)
  3. notify the engineer (if one is onboard)
  4. quickly assess the situation is it safe to enter the space or not
  5. if safe and fire is controllable the use of portable fire extinguishers
  6. boundary cooling
  7. continual monitoring
  8. emergency message

By following these basic steps, you have the greatest potential to avoid a disaster like the vessel below!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure your crew know:

  • how to identify different types of fires
  • the location of all fire extinguishers
  • the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses
  • how to use a fire extinguisher
  • how to use a fire blanket
  • the risks involved in fighting fires onboard

If all your crew are up to speed with the above then your chances of surviving a fire are greatly improved.


Tip

Ensure you undertake regular training (drills) that include different types and locations of fires, e.g., the galley, engine room, accommodation, etc.

To do this you must have procedures in place and your fire procedures, like all others must detail what YOU do on your vessel so ensure you list all the steps you would take in the event of a fire on your vessel.

Need help with your fire procedures? Feel free to contact us for advice or assistance as you need to get it right!


Log Books

Log Books will always remain a vital part of a vessel’s equipment.

We have created Log Books by Mariners for Mariners.  They are easy to use and meet all AMSA requirements.  Click Here to look at our list of log books available and order online for Free Postage.

We also can create bespoke log books that are vessel and/or company specific.  Contact us today for more details.

Hopefully everyone got something out of last week’s issue, and it inspired at least some but hopefully most to check their vessel’s fire equipment.

To follow on from last week I think a good starting point is to go back to fire basics and look at the fire triangle: fuel, heat and 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 onboard 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 underlying desire to get burnt or go swimming!

Here’s a 3 of the more common areas where the potential for a fire onboard is quite high.

  1. Engine rooms: leaking fuel or hydraulic/oil lines and bags of rags
  2. The galley: oil fires and stoves and other appliances left unattended
  3. Accommodation areas: mobile phone/tablet/laptop chargers and overloaded power boards

Leaking fuel or hydraulic lines are often the cause of fires in engine 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 the engine room are also a recipe for fire.

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 I deliver very few people actually know how to use them.

Here’s what everyone onboard should know about using fire blankets.

  1. Pull the tabs and open the fire blanket
  2. Take hold of the tabs and flick the top over your hands
  3. Approach the fire slowly with the blanket just below your eyes
  4. Place it gently over the fire. DO NOT throw it as this will fan the fire
  5. Then the step that just about everyone misses – turn off the power or gas supply!
  6. Leave it in place for at least 20 – 30 minutes or longer
  7. Slowly remove it using the tabs nearest you

Note that when you’ve used a fire blanket it cannot be re-used and must be replaced.

 Personally, I 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 homes as well.

People in their bunks get up and inadvertently throw a donna over the item which causes an extra build up of heat and there’s your fire waiting to happen.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

My recommendation is always regular inspections and by that I mean daily when operating and prior departure every other time! As for waste rags, make sure you store them in an appropriate manner and place, which is not in the engine room!

For galley’s it’s simple, don’t leave cooking appliances on when no one is watching them and…make sure all crew know how to use a fire blanket and fire extinguishers.

Finally, charging appliances and overloading power boards in accommodation spaces you have to be aware of the potential consequences. My recommendation here is to make a rule that charging appliances is only undertaken in the galley or other area where the chance of a fire is limited.


Tip

The one tip I can give you here is to make regular inspections of all fuel and hydraulic/oil lines a habit and ensure all fire extinguishers are serviced regularly.

My overriding tip is to ensure you undertake regular training that covers all potential fire locations and sources onboard your vessel. Without this all the best equipment in the world will not do you any good!

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.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

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!


Tip

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!

Following the previous issues on fire and fire safety we’ve received a number of calls about what to look at when inspecting fire extinguishers.

This newsletter is in response to those requests to ensure we deliver the information you are looking for!

Due to the conditions we work in it’s important that you check your fire extinguishers regularly and not just wait until they are due for servicing.

In this issue I’ve outlined what to look for to ensure your fire extinguishers are in the best condition and ready for use when needed. Note that this applies not only to vessels but also land based operations!

Are they charged?

It’s amazing how often I get onboard and check fire extinguishers only to discover that they are not charged. This can lead to disaster if a fire breaks out.

The 2 most common extinguishers onboard vessels are:

Dry Chemical: It’s a simple matter to check the gauge on Dry Chemical extinguishers

CO2: These need to be weighed to establish if they are full or empty

Checking the canister!

Rust is a major issue for fire extinguishers onboard vessels and in locations around the waterfront and should be monitored regularly. The following photos identify rust areas.

When you see rust like this you need to replace the extinguisher immediately.

Dents are another major issue. These are caused by dropping the extinguisher or things coming into contact with the extinguisher. Dents like in the picture below are potential leak points and the extinguisher should be replaced as soon as possible.

Check the nozzle

It pays to inspect the nozzle for anything that may be inside it and present a potential problem when using the extinguisher. Insects such as wasps have been know to build nests in fire extinguisher nozzles.

The diagram below provides a guide to other items you should check on a regular basis.

 


Shorlink’s Recommendation

It’s simple, undertaking regular inspections of your fire extinguishers is highly recommended to ensure you have the extinguisher fully charged and in good condition in the event of a fire.

Remember, every second a fire is not dealt with makes it that much harder to extinguish and puts the vessel and all persons onboard in danger

 


Tip

Make sure they are easily accessible at all times and…don’t use them as a cloths hook or stack gear all around them because if you need them you’ll need them quickly.

If you would like more information about doing the 6 month service yourself contact our office and we’ll be gald to give you all the details. We also have all the forms required!

Any fire onboard a vessel, or in the workplace can be one of the most dangerous things to be involved in. they can and often do lead to damage to or loss of the vessel and serious injury or loss of life!

Unfortunately, when we do onboard training it’s sad to note that many crew members don’t know how to efficiently deal with fires onboard or even be able to identify what fire extinguisher is what.

Failure to be able to identify which extinguisher to use on specific fires and how to use them puts you and your vessel in danger.


Potential injuries

The risk of injury when fighting a fire or simply being onboard is very high. Injuries range from minor to critical and loss of life and include but are not limited to:

  • Scalding
  • Burns
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Inhalation of toxic fumes
  • Eye damage

Let’s look at burns

There are 3 classifications of burns which are first, second or third degree depending on how deep and severe they penetrate the skin’s surface.

  • First degree (superficial burns)
    First degree burns only affect the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The burn site is red, painful, dry and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example.
  • Second degree (partial thickness) burns
    Second degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered and may be swollen and painful.
  • Third full thickness) burns
    Third degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. These burns may also damage the underlying bones, muscles and tendons. The burn site  appears white or charred. There is no sensation in the area and the nerve ending. are destroyed.

Burns affecting 10 percent of a child’s body and those affecting 15 to 20 percent of an adult’s body are considered to be major injuries and require hospitalisation and extensive rehabilitation.

Smoke inhalation and toxic fumes

What many people don’t realise is that many items involved in a fire produce not only smoke but toxic fumes which are deadly if inhaled.

Many furniture items and bedding along with chemical products such as cleaners, oils, etc. can produce toxic fumes which, if inhaled even in small quantities can cause death.

Risk of explosion

The risk of an explosion is always present when fire is involved. Vessels have fuel onboard, many have LPG, Oxy gear and many others which all have the potential for an explosion.

An explosion brings a list of other potential injuries including:

  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Bone fractures or breaks
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • and many others including loss of life!

Fire timelines

All fires present the potential to become major in seconds which can and often does result in serious damage to or loss of your vessel not to mention lives of those onboard.

If you don’t deal with a fire quickly and efficiently you put your vessel and all those onboard at risk. A fire can go from a small fire to uncontrollable in seconds, so your response time is critical.

One of the scenarios we include in our training is what to do with a small fire in the engine room that becomes uncontrollable and traps a crew member. What would you or your crew do in this situation?

The simple fact is you have to act quickly and efficiently and the only way to ensure that happens is by regular training.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that you ensure all crew members and other workers both sea-going and shore-based receive training in emergency fire procedures.

This gives you the best chance of having a fire dealt with in a safe and efficient manner. While this is a recommendation it’s also a legal requirements for vessel owners, operators and Master’s to ensure all have at least a basic knowledge of what to do if a fire breaks out.

Our second recommendation is to review your fire procedures to ensure they cover the potential fire locations including engine rooms, accommodation areas, the galley, etc.

Like to have your fire procedures reviewed for free, then contact our office to have get a free assessment. Phone: 07 4242 1412  Email: sms@shorlink.com


Tip

Ensure you induct and train your crew and other workers identifying the location and type of fire extinguishers and any suppression systems.

Have them go around the vessel or workplace and identify fire extinguisher locations and what type of fires each one deals with.

This simple exercise can save valuable time in the event of a fire and could save lives, one of which could be yours!