Standard Club and David Townsend, Principle fire investigator at Andrew Moore & Associates Ltd released a loss prevention alert focusing on container fires while making some suggestions for improvement.
ccording to Mr. Moore, during the recent years there is an increasing number of fires onboard containerships with disastrous consequences, not only for the shipowner and the crew on board, but also for the environment and the shipping industry’s reputation.
Fire safety in container shipping has, for various reasons, and predominantly due to the sheer capacity, become
compromised. Existing applicable codes have become effective only on occasion that an incident is small and
that all code criteria and prescribed procedures go to plan. The result is that there is little or no margin for error.
…Mr. Moore adds.
The fundamental criteria of fire safety includes:
- Fire Resistance
- Fire Fighting
- Fire Fighting Access
The fundamental aims of fire risk assessment are to:
- Identify and remove or reduce ignition sources
- Mitigate the effects of any remaining ignition risk
- Remove or reduce all sources of combustible material
- Protect all remaining combustible material or risk
The remaining fire risk should then be As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) and the priority of actions needed to achieve this will be graded in terms of;
- Immediate: To address any item that is a clear and present danger such as blocked fire escape routes and fire door wedges.
- High priority: To address items that require urgent action and attention such as damaged fire door closing devices.
- Medium priority: To address items that cannot be fixed rapidly such as excessive fire door gaps.
- Low priority: To enable long term solutions that require substantial funding or redesign.
The most effective and reliable fire protection is by passive means. This is achieved through construction, materials, fittings and coatings that have a long ‘shelflife’, require little maintenance or monitoring and no human activity in the event of fire. This would include, for example; fire resistance, compartmentation and dampers.
Active fire protection methods are secondary and complementary but by no means inferior. This would include, for example; fire suppression systems or appliances and self-closing doors.
As explained, fire detection may be regarded as both passive and active since it is a permanent fixture but requires some human interaction or greater monitoring and maintenance.