ABS Gives Vital Recommendations On Fire Fighting Suits


The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has issued an update on the appropriate firefighting suits that crew members should have to effectively combat fires in open-air environments and enclosed spaces, all while ensuring their safety.

Firefighting Standards 

According to ABS, many firefighting suits on board are designed under the EN 531 standard. However, this standard is designed for industrial workers exposed to heat and is not intended for firefighting. Moreover, some suits labeled under EN 531 feature unprotected metal zippers, buttons, or clasps, which can conduct heat and cause burns.

A protective suit meeting the demands of firefighting is one complying with the European standard EN 469:2005, as noted below. Level 2 is required for firefighting in enclosed spaces. EN 469:2005 and its revised version EN 469:2020 also mandate a risk assessment to be made.

Frequently Encountered Standards 

  • EN 1486 (Europe)
  • ISO 15538 (International)
  • NFPA 1971 (USA)
  • NISTIR 7467 (USA)
  • GA 634-2015 (China)

Due to the different requirements of every country, there are some differences between standards. Before purchasing suits according to a specific standard, it is advisable to read the test methods and minimum performance requirements of the specific standard. In addition, standards such as EN 469 and ISO 15538 emphasize the significance of conducting a risk assessment.


Operators are encouraged to check the condition and certification of the fire suits available on board and to conduct a risk assessment to confirm the suitability of the fire suits for firefighting scenarios that could be encountered, including outside on-deck firefighting, inside accommodation and/or other enclosed spaces.

Although not stated in the EU-MED, the correct firefighting suit standard for firefighting inside enclosed spaces (e.g., accommodation, engine room, etc.) is EN469 level 2.

  • In EN 469:2005, all performance criteria (Xr, Xf, Y, and Z) should be level 2 for the suit to be classified as level 2. If one of the performance criteria is level 1, then the suit is no longer level 2.
  • In the updated standard, EN 469:2020, the performance level is determined solely based on performance criterion X. If X is X1, then the suit is categorized as level 1. Conversely, if X is X2, then the suit is classified as level 2.

It is suggested that if fire suits available on board are not suitable for firefighting inside enclosed spaces, record this in the ship’s SMS for crew awareness and to ensure that additional suits suitable for firefighting inside enclosed spaces are available on board.

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Source: EAGLE