Fire on board ship is a common cause of shipwrecks. One of the reasons is that cargo ships may carry large amount of combustible or flammable substances such as natural gas and petroleum as well as other ignitable products. Therefore, suitable fire-fighting equipment is required to extinguish the fires at the earliest stage before they become out of control.
In addition, fire safety equipment on board must be maintained properly and inspected regularly to meet the highest standardsso as to respond to fires immediately and effectively in case of a fire emergency.
The must-have fire-fighting appliances on board include fire dampers, fire pumps, fire hydrants, fire redundant bulkheads, and fire hose/nozzles, along with the most valuable tool — portable fire extinguishers.
This handy yet powerful and effective tool available on board can often contain a fire before it becomes catastrophic and out of control. Of course, early warning systems such as fire detectors and alarm devices also play a critical role in getting the blaze under control.
One might wonder why a fire will break out on a ship. No surprisingly, negligence is the major cause if you want to know the truth. We’ll provide useful insights into how negligence causes such fires.
Common Negligence That Causes Ship Fires
1. Mechanical Malfunction
Thebulky, sophisticated machinery more than needed in number usually causes fires on ships, especially the one in the boiler rooms where some of the complex machines with fuel pipes needed to run them are housed. For this reason, an electronic or mechanical malfunction, along with leaking fuel pipes, can be the potential cause of a fire. Fuel puddles on the ground or exhaust gas is highly likely to burst into flames.
2. Lack of Training
It takes air, heat, and fuel to combust in theory. But human errors such as maintenance crew’s negligence play a more important role in causing a fire and, worse still, making it out of control. Therefore, regular on-the-job training for the crew members on the ship is the key to fire prevention on board. They must know not to hoard up or discard flammable items anywhere on a ship and stick to this rule no matter what. On-board danger zones that are highly likely to cause ship fires include boiler rooms and engine rooms. Factors such as lack of proper maintenance and electrical malfunctions also contribute to such fire hazards.
3. Obsolete Fire-fighting Equipment
Most on-board fire-fighting equipment, including a fire extinguisher, does not have an expiry date, or is well past its expiry date. That means the whole fire-fighting system has already malfunctioned as time goes by.Same thing happens to fire safety blankets as well.
They deteriorate over time even without continuous use. The crew’s ignorance of obsolete fire-fighting equipment not only makes a ship fire worse, but also causes more damage to passengers’ life and property. For this reason, it is extremely important to properly maintain all the on-board fire-fighting equipment on a regular basis and make sure to keep it updated.
Therefore, having fire-fighting appliances and systems serviced or replaced by professional technicians are necessary.