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Monday, 10 November 2008

Halon & Freon fire supressants

Ships' engine rooms are commonly fitted with inert gas fire suppression systems; unlike water they don't make the vessel heavier, and can leave engines and equipment undamaged. However, they're also invariably fitted with loud and very noticeable audible and visual warning alarms to warn people to get out. So I expect the cause of the fatal accident on the Russian sub will be the usual equipment failure or human error. Still, they are usually more reliable than sending the crew down with hoses, as this MCGA inspection report I published in February 2007 demonstrates:

DETENTIONS

The Cambodian flagged general cargo ship 'Piligrim 2', 1551 GT, at Shoreham.

The Port State Control Officer (PSCO) from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency found twelve deficiencies, two of which were major non conformities under the ISM Code.

The PSCO noticed a heavily corroded extinguisher at the gangway, and found several more CO2 extinguishers with the horns missing. An accommodation fire damper was found lying on the deck.

The PSCO had clear grounds to request the crew to carry out a fire drill. It took considerable effort for the crew to understand, as the master and officers spoke almost no English. The Inspector had to write 'Fire Drill' on a piece of paper in large letters and hold it up.

The drill was not up to the required standard, as was displayed by the fire team. The team leader showed up in a fire suit wearing trainers and donned the breathing apparatus upside down with the waist strap around his neck which proceeded to choke him.

The second member of the team, without a breathing apparatus set, grabbed a length of hose and dashed into the engine room, the scene of the fire, which was supposedly ablaze. His progress came to an abrupt halt halfway down the first ladder when he ran out of hose.

At that point the inspection was suspended and the vessel was detained.

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