Tag Archive for: Incident

Working over the side of a vessel involves many risks and can be and has been the cause of serious injuries and loss of life.

When we say working over the side most people think of leaning over the side of the vessel being secured by a safety harness over the side for maintenance, repairs or even cleaning.

Unfortunately, many crew members don’t think of going out on the trawl booms as working over the side, but the fact is you are over the side of the vessel and often in an even more dangerous situation.

Over the years very little attention has been paid to this task but on many commercial vessels it’s a task that occurs regularly and often without safety precautions.

While working over the side while secured by a safety harness, has dangers you are relatively safe in comparison to being out at the end of a trawl boom!

It’s not just trawl booms, other vessels have booms for stabilisers and you can find yourself out on those at times as well due to a number of reasons.

The fact is that all booms represent a hazardous work area no matter what safety features are incorporated. Booms are designed to do a specific job often with little or no consideration of safety.

Booms are usually constructed out of metal tube or pipe which means they are round which presents a problem for walking on, especially in wet and/or rough conditions.

When out on the end of a trawler boom you have a number of hazardous items to contend with while undertaking any task.

Things like stay wires, trawl cables, boards and sleds and nets all present serious risks especially when trying to hang on and walking on a circular platform that is wet and often dipping into the water.

Some trawl booms have grab rails as a safety measure but while helpful you are still at risk when out on the boom so…what safety measures can you incorporate?

In all the Safety Management System manuals we develop for trawlers and other vessels with booms or arms we always include a procedure for working over the side and on trawl booms or arms.

In this procedure we specify the wearing of a Level 150 PFD for persons working over the side and on booms or arms.

Some operators include the wearing of a safety harness when working on booms which is attached to the vessel and while it may seem like a good idea it has inherent dangers.

These include the fact that if you fall off the boom you can end up being caught up in cables or stay wires, being dragged under or even crashed against the side of the vessel in rough weather.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to include a procedure for working over the side and on trawl booms which includes the mandatory wearing of a Level 150 PFD for all persons working over the side and especially when going out on trawl booms or arms.


Tip

While having Level 150 PFD’s available it’s critical that they are in good condition and in service. Most PFD’s need to be serviced annually so make sure yours are serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

As lifejackets are subject to harsh conditions including but not limited to exposure to the sun, salt water, weather conditions, etc. regularly check them for damage and either service them or replace them if necessary.

Remember, lifejackets only work if you are wearing them!

Over the last few years there have been a number of incidents involving electric powered hand tools onboard which have resulted in everything from minor injuries to loss of life.

The use of power tools onboard should be well monitored to ensure the safety of the user and all other persons onboard.

In one incident a young deckhand was using a grinder ended up costing him his life and in another a crew member was lucky to survive when the power socket fell into water causing serious electrical shock.

Another serious incident resulted in loss of life while using a grinder when doing maintenance ashore. While not onboard a vessel at sea it highlights just how dangerous power tools can be.

How can injuries be prevented?

It’s not realistic to think that all incidents can be prevented because accidents do happen at times and that’s a fact!

To reduce the potential for accident to happen safety has to come first: at all times!

This means being fully aware of a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Identifying the right tool for the job at hand
  • Where power tools are being used (on deck, in the engine room, etc.)
  • The surrounding environment (wet decks, fuel nearby, etc.)
  • Power leads
  • Appropriate PPE

This is a short list of things to consider before using any power tools.

Potential lifesaving failures!

On a number of vessels I’ve observed some simple but potential lifesaving failures that have either been ignored or overlooked. They are…

  1. Vessels with onboard electrical supply are required to have a Residual Current Device (RCD) installed which provides a fast power cut- off in problem situations. A number of vessels didn’t have these fitted putting everyone onboard in danger!

Electrical hazards are often hidden and can be difficult to identify, such as a small hole in an extension lead or a power board damaged internally. Electrical accidents occur in an instant and RCDs are the only device that can protect you and your crew from these hidden dangers and give you a second chance.

Following on from last week’s newsletter, we now focus on surviving Hypothermia ‘in the water’!

No matter if you’re in cold water climates or in tropical areas and you find yourself in the water for any reason you may be alone or if you’re lucky with other people which can be a life saver!

Why a life saver?

It’s not because you have someone to talk to while waiting for help, although that’s part of the good side it’s all about maintaining body temperatures.

Alone in the water can reduce your survival time significantly depending on the water temperature, your condition and health, what you’re wearing, IF you’re wearing a lifejacket and a number of other factors.

But…when in a group your chances of survival increase dramatically but ONLY if you know what to do while you’re waiting for rescue.

Alone in the water

Finding yourself alone in the water can be a traumatic experience especially if you’ve gone overboard during the night.

The sight of the vessel steaming off into the night with the lights slowly getting smaller and smaller is enough to generate trauma in many people.

The major areas of heat loss are:

  1. Groin
  2. Head/neck
  3. Ribcage/armpits

If you’re wearing a lifejacket or have some other buoyant appliance the HELP position protects the body’s three major areas of heat loss.

What is HELP?

HELP stands for Heat Escape Lessening Posture. When you’re alone this position protects the body’s 3 major areas of heat loss. Wearing a lifejacket of PFD allows you to draw your knees to your chest and your arms to your sides.

To get into the HELP position all you need to do is…

 

 

  • Keep your legs together and raise your knees
  • Hold arms against tight against your chest
  • Keep your head out of the water

This position will give you’re the best chance of survival against hypothermia!

Two or more persons

My comment when delivering training is if you’re in the water with two or more people “share the love” and huddle because it improves your survival rate significantly!

Getting into a huddle is not only the best way to protect against hypothermia but it also gives you the best chance of being seen by rescuers.

How to HUDDLE!

 

 

  • Press the sides of the chests and lower torso together
  • Hug around the lifejackets
  • Intertwine legs as much as possible; and
  • Talk to one another!

Huddling with other people in the water lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale and also allows rescuers to spot you easier.

Try not to separate as this will allow body temperatures to start falling quickly.

Consider this…

While progressive loss of body heat can result in loss of consciousness and death, many victims perish much sooner when immersed suddenly in cold water. Cold shock can affect some, causing cardiac failure within a few minutes.

Increased breathing rates can lead to dizziness, and the muscles cool rapidly. Immersion in cold water can cause such rapid loss of muscular function that in minutes a person loses the strength to board a raft or even operate a flare.

A fit person in these circumstances quickly loses the ability to make even basic movements to help keep themselves afloat. There have been many recorded cases of drowning in less than 10 minutes – long before the body core temperature has started to drop or the person is affected by hypothermia.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

It’s vital for all crew to know these 2 lifesaving positions and how they help in extending not only their survival time but also for others in the water with them.

If you’re working on a vessel that carries passengers it’s the responsibility of ALL crew members to know how to deal with emergency situations including hypothermia!


Tip

Next time you’re in the water try both of these lifesaving positions and get familiar with them so as if for any reason you find yourself in the water you know how to survive!

Also…it’s imperative that treatment be sought as soon as is possible for any person suffering from hypothermia as death may follow unless correct treatment is provided immediately!

**Warning: Graphic images are contained in this article!**

There are a range of infections that you can get when working in the tropics but one of the worst is Necrotizing Fasciitis.

So, what the heck is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Necrotizing fasciitis (NECK-re-tie-zing FASH-e-i-tis) is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death.

Necrotizing fasciitis is rarely contagious. It is very rare for someone with necrotizing fasciitis to spread the infection to other people.

There are many types of bacteria that can cause the “flesh eating disease” called necrotizing fasciitis. Public health experts believe group A Streptococcus (group A strep) are the most common cause.

How you become infected!

The bacteria most commonly enter the body through a break in the skin, including:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Burns
  • Insect bites
  • Puncture wounds
  • Surgical wounds

However, people can also get necrotizing fasciitis after an injury that does not break the skin (blunt trauma).

The most common way on commercial vessels is by a puncture wound.

The infection often spreads very quickly. Early symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis can include but are not limited to:

  • A red, warm, or swollen area of skin that spreads quickly
  • Severe pain, including pain beyond the area of the skin that is red, warm, or swollen
  • fever

Dealing with necrotizing fasciitis!

Common sense and good wound care are the best ways to prevent a bacterial skin infection.

  • Clean all minor cuts and injuries that break the skin (like blisters and scrapes) with soap and water.
  • Clean and cover draining or open wounds with clean, dry bandages until they heal.
  • See a doctor for puncture and other deep or serious wounds.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not possible.
  • Care for fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a very serious illness that requires care in a hospital. Antibiotics and surgery are typically the first lines of defence if a doctor suspects a patient has necrotizing fasciitis.

Since necrotizing fasciitis can spread so rapidly, patients often must get surgery done very quickly. Doctors also give antibiotics through a needle into a vein (IV antibiotics) to try to stop the infection.

Sometimes, however, antibiotics cannot reach all of the infected areas because the bacteria have killed too much tissue and reduced blood flow. When this happens, doctors have to surgically remove the dead tissue. It is not unusual for someone with necrotizing fasciitis to end up needing multiple surgeries. In serious cases, the patient may need a blood transfusion.

Necrotizing fasciitis can lead to sepsis, shock, and organ failure. It can also result in life-long complications from loss of limbs or severe scarring due to surgically removing infected tissue.

Even with treatment, up to 1 in 3 people with necrotizing fasciitis die from the infection. Six out of every 10 people who get both necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome at the same time die from their infections.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is another very serious illness caused by group A strep. It causes the body to go into shock and involves low blood pressure and multiple organ failure.

You may have heard that you can get Vibrio infection from eating raw or undercooked oysters and other seafood. But did you know you can also get a Vibrio infection through an open wound? This can happen when a wound comes into contact with raw or undercooked seafood, its juices, or its drippings or with saltwater or brackish water and can lead to necrotizing fasciitis

One species, Vibrio vulnificus, can cause life-threatening wound infections. Many people with Vibrio vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputations, and about 1 in 5 people with this infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Treat all puncture wounds quickly, don’t think they are just a small scratch, and everything will be OK because often it’s too late when it surfaces.


Tip

All commercial vessels have the appropriate drugs onboard to deal with necrotizing fasciitis before it takes hold so tell the Master and have your wounds tended too quickly!

Crew inductions and training, just how important are they and can they get you sent home or cause delays in getting to sea?

The simple answer is yes they can and have done so already. I’ve been telling vessel owners and operators for some time AMSA will be getting tough on inductions and training with a recent case highlighting this.

A warning for all owners, operators and Masters

AMSA undertook a vessel inspection and conducted challenge testing to see how the crew would handle an emergency situation. The result, the vessel was tied up due to the crew failing to be able to demonstrate they were competent.

You need to ensure all crew, new and existing know the location of:

  • all safety appliances
  • all firefighting appliances and equipment
  • fuel shut offs
  • air shut offs
  • fire suppression system activation point
  • engine room fans
  • isolation points for electrical areas and items

Not only do your crew have to know where these items are but also how to use them. It’s no use knowing where something is and not knowing how to use it properly and safely!

Do your crew know where all of the above items are and how to use them?

If not then be prepared to be sent home or tied up before you leave port because AMSA now have a focus on ensuring all crew members can handle emergency situations and…so should you!

For fleet owners

If you’re a fleet owner or operator and you have crew that operate on different vessels they must be inducted onto each vessel they work on. Remember that while a vessel may undertake the same operations each vessel is different in some way.

This makes it critical that you ensure all crew are inducted onto each vessel they work on and their induction and initial and ongoing training onboard that vessel is recorded properly.

Record Keeping

While it’s good that you induct new crew and provide initial and ongoing emergency response training if you don’t record it then as far as regulators are concerned it didn’t happen.

You need to ensure all inductions and training are recorded in accordance with regulatory requirements.

At Shorlink we have a set of standard forms we use for recording inductions and training which are:

  • Crew Induction Agreement
  • Crew Details
  • Crew Induction Record (for use by Masters when inducting new crew)
  • Emergency Preparedness Training Record (for Masters use to record ongoing training, drills)
  • Crew/Vessel Induction and Training Record. This is a form we use internally when we conduct inductions and initial emergency response training.

Shorlink inductions, initial training and ongoing training.

We undertake vessel specific crew inductions and initial emergency response training for a large number of our clients.

These are delivered based on their operations which may be seasonal or for others either monthly, bi-annually or annually.

In conjunction with these we provide hands on distress flare and portable fire extinguisher training to ensure all crew members know how to use these items if necessary.

Contact our office for more information!

 

Wayne delivering fire extinguisher training! Wayne delivering fire extinguisher training!

 


Shorlink’s Recommendation

My number one recommendation is to ensure you fully induct each and every crew member, new and existing. To ensure all crew members remain up to date and efficient with emergency response ensure you conduct ongoing training (drills) at regular intervals.

We also recommend that you go through vessel/crew inductions and initial training at least once a year to ensure everything is up to date.

If you’re unsure about your inductions and training contact us here at Shorlink to help you get yours up to date and compliant. Don’t wait until there’s an emergency or AMSA inspection! Our inductions and training sessions provide a simple cost effective means of ensuring you meet your requirements.


Tip

Check your induction and training documents to ensure they are up to date and comply with the requirements! If they are not then that means that you need to do some work to get your inductions and training activities and records up to date.

Dear subscriber and in particular Shorlink clients,

This message has important information to ensure your Safety Management System (SMS) is up to date and remains compliant!

If you have changed any contact details that are listed in your SMS including:

  • Owner or owners
  • Emergency Contact
  • Designated Person (DP) or persons

You must update your SMS accordingly if not already done so.

We recently had a situation where we received a call from a vessel where they were in trouble and unable to contact any of the numbers listed in the SMS manual.

On top of that there had been a change of staff within the company and the details in the SMS were not updated as required to ensure the SMS remained compliant.

Contact details includes:

  • Name or names
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Mobile number
  • Email

Specific Requirements

Emergency Contact

The Emergency Contact is the person who is listed in the SMS as the Emergency Contact and is primarily responsible for the operation of the business.

A person who is listed as the emergency contact in the SMS must be available at a minimum during the company’s normal business hours.

Designated Person

A Designated Person is someone listed in the SMS as the person who has the responsibility of monitoring the safety and pollution prevention of the vessel.

It is a legal requirement that if you are listed as a Designated Person in the vessels SMS you MUST be contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at all times to respond to emergency situations should they arise.

If your SMS does not have the current contact details, especially of the DP then it is not compliant and in the event of an incident you leave yourself exposed to legal action.

For all Shorlink clients, if there has been any changes please notify us immediately so as we can update your SMS accordingly to ensure you remain compliant.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Review the contact details of all persons listed in your SMS to ensure they are up to date and correct.

This not only includes emergency and designated person details but also owner’s details.

If you need assistance with the Designated Person section in your SMS (Section 4 of Marine Order 504) then feel free to contact us here at Shorlink for assistance.

Don’t simply put it on your to do list as a failure to update this critical information in your SMS leaves you exposed in the event of a marine incident!

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.