Marine Safety Forum has issued a safety alert following an engine room fire aboard one of its member’s ships. The issue raises concerns about the potential for fire when oil purifiers leak onto hot surfaces. Have you checked yours lately?
Says the alert, which raises several safety issues:: “Recently onboard one of our vessels a fire occurred in the engine room space in way of the fuel oil purifier unit and port main engine. This resulted in a blackout situation, a temporary loss of propulsion and damage to engine room equipment, wiring etc.
“The vessel informed the platform at the location, they were well clear of the installation (1.5 nautical miles) in the drift off position. There were no other vessels in the area. The vessel was in contact with the Coast guard throughout the incident and they were kept abreast of the situation. The fire was extinguished by ship staff.
“Power was restored and the vessel made way to port for remedial repairs and incident investigation. There were no injuries or environmental impact sustained due to this incident; however the potential for a less favourable outcome was present.”
The seal between the purifier main body and cover was not effective enough in preventing fuel oil leaking out. Lagging and shielding in way of the Port main engine exhaust and turbo charger was not effective in preventing exposure to the hot surfaces below (The turbo charger outlet was the most likely initial ignition point), allowing fuel oil to come into contact with hot surface. The purifier unit had a number of plastic hoses fitted to it. It is felt that this had an impact on the extent of the damage, as when these melted they allowed more fuel to feed the fire.