Jan 022013
Know where it is before it burns.

Know where it is before it burns.

Do you know where your fire suppression system pressure switch is? And is it in the right place? Asks the US Coast Guard in a safety alert following a vessel fire in which the engine room ventilation could not be secured because the switch was in the engine room.

These critical components sense the activation of the system and then electrically secures the ventilation systems operating in the protected space. Securing the ventilation is essential in extinguishing a fire onboard a vessel. It assists in isolating the fire within the space, minimizes the introduction of additional oxygen to fuel the fire and prevents the loss of fire suppression agents from the space.

Recently, a vessel with an installed fixed CO2 fire suppression system, suffered extensive damage due to a fire that started in the engine room. During the firefighting efforts the crew reported that the engine room ventilation could not be secured. A post casualty damage survey of the vessel revealed that the pressure switch used to secure the ventilation was located within the engine room. The result can be seen above compared to a new switch.

Says the USCG: “Fixed CO2 systems on inspected/regulated vessels need to be type approved and installed in accordance with applicable regulations; 46 CFR 25.30-15, 46 CFR Subpart 76.15, 46 CFR Subpart 95.15, 46 CFR 118.410, and so on. These regulations require all controls and valves for the operation of the system to be outside the space protected, and notes they cannot be located in any space that might be cut off or made inaccessible in the event of fire in the protected spaces. The Coast Guard considers pressure switches that are used in such systems a ‘control’.

“For Uninspected Towing Vessels, 46 CFR 25.30-15 (b) requires installation in accordance with 46 CFR Subpart 76.15 and reiterates the location requirements”.

Owners and operators of vessels with installed fixed fire suppression systems should ensure that these switches are properly located aboard their vessels. If the pressure switch or switches are located within the space being protected, they should be relocated by a properly trained fire suppression service technician. Doing so will assist in ensuring system functionality and accessibility in the event of an emergency.

Failing to do so could have serious consequences to the vessel, its crew and the environment.

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