The Bahama Maritime Authority (BMA) has issued a Marine Notice which applies to all Bahamian ships fitted with automatic sprinkler systems of an approved type complying with the requirements of the Fire Safety Systems Code, as required by Regulations 10.4, 10.5 & 10.6 of SOLAS II-2, or other IMO Codes.
MA informs that since 2013, testing has been carried out on a number of different makes of automatic sprinkler system. The testing has found failures on both high pressure and low pressure automatic sprinkler systems produced by a number of different manufacturers. Failures have occurred exclusively on ships over 5 years of age.
Due to the severity of these findings and the need to determine the extent of these failures, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) has decided to instigate increased testing for Bahamian ships fitted with automatic sprinkler systems. This Notice takes into account the findings related to failures on both high pressure and low pressure systems.
The extent of testing required is dependent on the age of the automatic sprinkler system. Testing consists of:
- “Initial” testing of two sprinklers;
- “Basic” testing of 20 sprinklers to assess the general condition of the system; and,
- “Extended” testing, where it is necessary to obtain a more detailed assessment of the condition of the system through testing an increased sample size of sprinklers.
Maintenance of automatic sprinkler systems
Companies operating Bahamian ships shall ensure that the relevant parts of MSC.1/Circ.1432, as amended by MSC.1/Circ.1516, and manufacturer’s inspection and maintenance instructions for automatic sprinkler systems are incorporated into their Safety Management System.
The BMA recommends that automatic sprinkler system water quality be assessed through periodic sampling and analysis in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Records of automatic sprinkler system water quality should be maintained for monitoring purposes to ensure that any deterioration in water quality is identified and to reduce the possibility of damage to sprinklers resulting in failure to operate. Base line water quality should be established at the following times:
i. Prior to the delivery of the ship from the building yard but, after all installation testing has been completed;
ii. Whenever the system is flushed and re-filled with water in accordance with manufacturer’s maintenance instructions or after operation/testing.
Basic testing acceptance criteria
- If 0, 1 or 2 (≤10%) of the sprinklers fail to operate at the pilot pressure, no further action is required, and the situation will be monitored by new tests at the next annual survey.
- If 3 or more sprinklers out of the 20 sprinklers tested fail (>10%) an extended testing programme in accordance with paragraphs 18,19, 20, 21 & 22 below should be initiated
- In the special case of 2 sprinklers from the same sprinkler section failing, it should be ensured that the remaining sprinklers in the same section are not impaired. Typically, an additional 10 sprinklers should be tested in the same section. If 2 or more of the additional sprinklers fail the test, the section is to be deemed contaminated and all sprinklers within that section should be replaced.