Gard On Strategies For Ensuring Fire Safety In Ship Engine Rooms


  • Fires on ships often start in the engine room, posing a severe threat to the vessel and crew.
  • Effective fire safety involves maintaining steel separations to prevent fire spread, ensuring air control systems work correctly, managing combustible oils properly, and keeping the engine room clean.
  • Regular maintenance of potential ignition sources and thorough training in the use of firefighting equipment are essential.
  • Preparedness and adherence to safety protocols are crucial for managing fire risks and ensuring crew safety.

Any fire on board a vessel poses a significant threat. At sea, there is no fire brigade to call; the crew must extinguish the fire to save the vessel and their lives. Therefore, crew members must be well-prepared, familiar with firefighting equipment, and able to act quickly and decisively.

Steel Separations

Engine room casings, decks, bulkheads, and staircases are made of steel to prevent fire spread. These barriers protect the accommodation, bridge, lifeboat stations, and cargo areas from an engine room fire and vice versa. It is crucial to maintain these separations, especially when installing new cables and pipelines.

Air Control

Proper functioning of air ventilation fire flaps and emergency stops for fans is essential. Crew members should know all engine room openings that might need closing in a fire. Fire flaps should be regularly checked, greased, and able to secure closed positions. All doors, emergency exits, and skylights must close tightly to prevent drafts that could fuel a fire.

Combustible Oil Management

Fuel oil, lubricating oil, and hydraulic oil in the engine room are highly combustible. Crew members must understand and respect built-in protections, such as remote controls for fuel oil supply valves. It is vital to ensure these safety devices are operational and not tampered with.

General Cleanliness

Maintaining cleanliness is crucial as accumulated oil can fuel a fire. Drip trays, gutters, and bilges should be kept clean, and oily rags disposed of correctly. Removing outdated equipment and unnecessary combustible materials enhances fire safety.

Sources of Ignition

Common ignition sources include hot exhaust pipes, bearings of rotating machinery, and defective electrical equipment. Proper maintenance and regular inspections can mitigate these risks. New regulations require better insulation for exhaust pipes to prevent fires.

Fire-Fighting Capabilities

Standard firefighting equipment includes hand-held extinguishers, large capacity extinguishers, fire pumps, and fixed fire extinguishing systems. Regular checks, proper storage, and training are essential. Crews must be familiar with the equipment and know how to use it effectively in an emergency.

Fire safety in the engine room relies heavily on crew preparedness, proper maintenance, and adherence to safety protocols. Regular training and realistic fire drills are essential for ensuring the crew can respond effectively to a fire emergency.

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Source: Gard