Majority of Onboard Fires Originate from the Engine Room


UK Club report: Majority of onboard fires originate from the engine room

The UK Club has teamed up with experts in forensic investigation, Burgoyne, to produce the latest Risk Focus on Engine Room Fire.


The deadly source of fire:

Engine room fires are one of the most common fires on ships owing to the presence of a wide range of sources of fuel, sources of ignition and running machinery. An extended period of time on board a ship without a fire incident can lead to complacency and a failure to prioritize fire prevention measures and simulated fire incident practices.


Tips to reduce the risk of a fire can be substantially reduced by:

  • Maintain a clean and tidy engine room.
  • Ensure that machinery and emergency control equipment are installed and operating in accordance with SOLAS.
  • Regulations and IMO Guidelines and they are routinely serviced and maintained in good working order, and subject to routine testing.
  • Ensure that hot surfaces are shielded and clad in accordance with SOLAS requirements.
  • Ensure that emergency equipment such as oil tank quick closing valves, fire pumps, remote stop systems and firefighting apparatus are generally armed and immediately ready for use.



  • Ensure that oil leaks are attended to promptly by effecting permanent repairs.
  • Ensure that where required by SOLAS II-2, oil pipes are sleeved and pipe joints are shielded, and that all oil pipework is adequately supported incorrect fitting pipe clamps.
  • Carry out routine temperature measurements of shielded or clad hot surfaces to ensure that even small parts are not exposed. This can be achieved by using an Infrared temperature gun.
  • Ensure that oil leak alarms on generators are in good operating order.
  • Ensure that engine room stores are tidy and that packaging material is not close to light fittings.
  • Ensure that engine room workshops are kept tidy, the floor
  • Area is clear of combustible materials and that cotton
  • Waste or rags are stored in a metal bin fitted with a lid or in metal cupboards
  • Ensure that drain lines in oil tank save-alls are clear and the save-alls are kept clean and free of solid materials such as cotton waste or rags.
  • Ensure that oil tank gauge glass self-closing cocks are unrestricted and operating correctly.
  • Ensure that oil tank quick closing valves are properly armed and that they are tested regularly.
  • Ensure that fire detection equipment is properly maintained and operable.
  • Ensure that automatic closing mechanism on all fire doors within and at the boundaries of the engine room are working correctly.
  • Ensure that ventilation closures are operable, are visually free of corrosion and provide a reasonable seal.

Carry out routine inspections of electrical equipment to include


  1. The insulation resistance of cables and equipment where appropriate (such as motor windings)
  2. Visual inspections of terminal connections and Infra-red temperature gun measurements.
  • Ensure that portable fire fighting appliances are correctly positioned and serviced.
  • Ensure that all hydrant outlets are accessible and operable.
  • Ensure that fixed fire fighting installations are properly maintained and armed.
  • Carry out routine fire drills to address different simulated fire incidents in various parts of the engine room.
  • Ensure that responsible persons are fully familiar with the correct operating sequences for the CO2 and foam fire fighting systems so that valuable time is not wasted.
  • Ensure that oxygen, acetylene and propane cylinders are safely stored in a ventilated compartment above deck and provided with correct regulators, flashback arrestors, and shut-off valves. Ensure that cylinder valves are isolated when systems are not in use.
  • Ensure that escape routes are clearly marked by using deck plate arrows and that exit doors are readily visible.



  • Allow smoking in the engine room other than in the control room where suitable arrangements are provided for the disposal of waste smokers’ material.
  • Make temporary repairs to oil containing pipe work.
  • Work on pressurized fuel systems.
  • Secure open self-closing oil tank gauge glasses.
  • Secure open by external means oil tank quick closing valves.
  • Secure open fire doors within and at the boundaries of the engine room.
  • Carry out hot-work in the engine room without a correctly completed, properly considered a permit to work and until all necessary hot work precautions are in place.


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Source: UK P&I Club