One of the main causes of accidents on ships is fire. On board we can find high temperatures, flammable liquids and other combustible materials. In addition, ships crew in many occasions, must fight against the fire alone, by their own means. This is very important in order to avoid bigger issues before some help can arrive.
In this post we will write about usual fixed means to fight against fire on board.
Fire hydrant system is fitted on board in the form of a fire line, which can be connected to hydrants at strategic locations on the ship. A fire hose kept near every hydrant is connected to the hydrant during emergencies for fire fighting fire. Fire main pump in engine room, supplies seawater at high pressure to the fire hydrants. The bilge, fire and general services pumps can also be used for this purpose as they are interconnected to the fire line.
Typical fire hydrant
The pump suction and outlet valves for engine room fire pump is generally kept open so as to start the pump from a remote position during emergency. In case more than two hydrants are required, two fire pumps can be switched on to maintain the required water pressures.
An emergency fire pump is also fitted usually located in steering gear or forward, depending on ship’s design.
Fire box located near a fire hydrant
A fixed foam fire fighting system can be used on board to provide protection to some engine room areas as well as, in tanker ships, deck spaces; main switch boards, incinerator room, purifiers room, pump room, electrical workshop, etc.
The foam outlets are installed at different locations. Generally, 4-5 supply lines are fitted with foam generators at strategic locations, supplying the foam to the discharge points.
Foam is produced by mixing a chemical with seawater, which is supplied by either fire and general services pump, or emergency fire pump. The chemical is kept in the foam room in a steel tank, which supplies the chemical to the mixers placed at different locations via a foam pump.
Typical chemical steel tank located in a tanker ship foam room
Traditional sprinklers work with water for their operation and require the discharge of a large amount of water, especially in the form of large drops, either in a protected space or directly on the equipment. This often involves considerable damage to protected areas and the need for a large water supply due to the huge amount of water required.
Water mist sprinkle systems provide fine droplets of water that, coming in contact with hot burning materials immediately evaporate producing a faster cooling effect. The high pressure water is injected through a special nozzle, which breaks water droplets into the fine mist.
Special type of sprinkle system called “drencher” system, in a ro-pax vessel car deck.
This system is fitted in almost all ships. In case of a major engine room fire, CO2 fixed fire extinguisher system is the most common method used for fire fighting. The issue with that system is that is dangerous for people, causing suffocation.
CO2 release system box
The CO2 operator usually the Chief Engineer, must be very careful to follow safety procedures to avoid risks. When operated, between other precautions, it is very important to be aware all staff is out of the CO2 protected spaces and all fire dampers are closed to avoid O2 entry. Paint rooms and also holds are other frequently CO2 protected spaces.
Typical CO2 bottles arrangement, located in ship’s CO2 room.
*All photographs taken during ABSURVEYORS’ ship condition inspections. All rights reserved .