Ship Engine Room Fire, Causes & What To Do


When you’re working onboard a vessel that is out to sea, an engine fire is one of the last things you want to deal with. That’s because while some fires start in areas that do not affect the ship’s ability to move, engine fires can completely cripple a vessel’s mobility. Engine room fires also obviously put a ship filled with maritime workers at risk of injury or death.

What’s causing engine room fires?

There are all sorts of flammable liquids in ship engine rooms, and poor maintenance and lack of concern for safety can result in fires. Many engine room fires are caused by flammable oil hitting hot surfaces, or “hot spots.” In an ideal engine room, the searing hot pipes are properly insulated and there are no oil leaks; however, when workers are not checking for leaks or random hot spots, fires can ignite when the two combine.

Electrical fires can also occur in engine rooms. These will occur when wires short out, insulation breaks down, or wires get too hot.

What to do if there’s an engine room fire on your ship?

You know how they want things handled in emergency situations. However, in general, the first rule of thumb is to seal off the engine room to make sure it’s air-tight. Don’t let any more oxygen in because that feeds the fire. Many ships use CO2 fire extinguishers and they can be very effective, but these extinguishers also come with risks and need to be used safely so crew members do not suffocate after they are used.

If you work on a ship, be sure to follow all safety protocols to avoid engine room fires. With a little vigilance and care, your vessel can be a much safer environment to work in.

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