Trade association interferry have issued practical guidance for fire safety on decks of ro-ro vessels, due to series of major accidents. Measures to enhance fire prevention, detection and conquest climax, the need for steady monitoring, prompt response and finest efficiency of deluge drencher systems.
The guidance was evaluated based on the inputs from association members last year due to seven serious fire accidents on ro-pax ships in Europe since 2010. Two recent incidents resulted in fatalities and total loss of ships, paving way from the Interferry’s Operators Policy Committee to publicize a common best practice mitigating actions. The findings have been coordinated by an ad hoc working group and circulated to members. The outcome will provide technical and operational feedback for fire regulatory discussions at the IMO where interferry has consultative status.
The top practises highlighted by members are ranked below as the key of recommendations:
- Training and drills should emphasize the importance of a rapid response to the scene of incident, with fire extinguishers and with no stopping to dress in firefighting gear.
- Training to emphasize the need of adopting a defensive firefighting posture after the initial response – the most important requirement being rapid establishment of control boundaries on all sides of the fire.
- Sailings exceeding 20 nautical miles, none of the passengers should be allowed to access any ro-ro deck, without the Master’s consent or the designated officer. Such of those allowed to access, have to be supervised.
- During voyage, all vehicle decks have to be monitored with specific relevance to units and electrical vehicles through technical equipment like CCTV, by crew patrols or a combination of remote supervision and crew inspection.
- The frequency of flushing existing deluge systems as prescribed in MSC Circ.1432 should be increased from once to twice for every five year period.
- In new ships the installations of the deluge system should be made from non-corrosive material to prevent blocks.
- All the vessels should be fitted with addressable fire detectors, as per the requirements for the new passenger ships which is mandatory.
The increased fire hazard posed by reefer units and charging of electric vehicles recommends that only connectors and cables provided by the ship should be used to supply power, with ship’s qualified crew as per the extant procedures. The lifesaving appliances also to be reviewed of their positioning and the operators should ensure that their integrity and accessibility are protected from the heat, smoke and flames passing through ro-ro deck side openings. These guidance is primarily of an operational nature. Based on design and other technical issues, operators are of the opinion that more research is warranted to establish the best practices, particularly fluid dynamics effects related to cross winds over open ro-ro decks.
Regulatory affairs Director, Johan Roos, remarks for work to enhance fire safety and it is a never ending process and the guidance is a timely further step. Many members have remarked to carry huge weight because they reflect years of hand experience. They share knowledge on what we already know-that prevention is better than cure. It reminds that if the worst happens, every second counts on minimising the effects.
In continuation of the initial round of guidance, Interferry plans for issue of more comprehensive procedures, to include the inputs that is still being provided by the members for operators but also classification societies.