Nobody knows precisely how a box of discarded medical and chemical residues ignited and caused a serious fire on the AHTS Maersk Champion on 12 January 2012, says a report from Denmark’s Maritime Accident Investigation Board, but the incident raised a number of notable lessons, from the discarding of waste to potential problems refilling SCBA gear.
The fire in the ship’s hospital occured while Maersk Champion was engaged in tanker lifting/heading control off the Brazilian coast.
Says the DMAIB: ‘The cause of the fire was most likely self ignition by a chemical reaction between chlorine-containing granules and other chemical substances in a plastic box with medicine and chemical
residues located in the ship’s hospital”.
Outdated medicine, aluminium containers with insecticide and plastic containers with chlorine containing granules had been collected and contained in a plastic box to be taken ashore. Everything contained in the box was packed and wrapped. A few hours later fire broke out at the site of the plastic box.
A matter of concern, although it did not affect the firefighting was difficulty accessing the air compressor to refill bottles being used by firefighter
During the fire, it appeared that the two accesses to the air compressor for refilling air bottles to the firemen’s outfits that was situated in the bosun’s store in the forecastle was hindered through the deck hatch by a locked padlock, and through the accommodation by the dense smoke in the accommodation, and refilling of air bottles was not possible. Says DMAIB:”Even though this did not create any problem, it was considered a lesson to be learned”.