What precautions to be followed and provisions to be made to prevent fires in the Engine Room?

30 Sep '18, 12:17

Sept. 30, 2018, 12:17 p.m.
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Following precautions should be taken:

  1. Suitable screens should be erected to prevent any oil which might escape from any oil pump, filter or heater from coming into contact with boilers or other heated surfaces.

  2. Save-alls or gutters should be provided under the oil pumps, heaters or strainers to catch any oil which may be spilled when any door or cover is removed. Similar arrangements should be made at the furnace fronts to intercept any oil which may escape from the burners. In the case of top fired boilers, special care should be taken in arranging the save-alls and coamings to prevent the spread of any oil spillage.

  3. Any relief valve fitted to prevent overpressure in the oil fuel heater should be in a closed circuit.

  4. Master oil valves at the furnace fronts should be of the quick closing type and fitted in conspicuous and readily accessible positions. It is recommended that they are painted bright red to aid identification in an emergency.

  5. Provision should be made to:

    a) prevent the supply of oil to any burner unless it has been correctly coupled to the oil supply line and
    b) prevent the removal of the burner before the oil supply is shut off. 6. A suitably mounted plan of the oil piping arrangements should be provided for the guidance of the engineers.

  6. Much of the above relates to the vessel's construction and as such could be considered as outside the control of the staff of the ship, however, it is the function of the ship's staff to understand the importance of these items and to maintain them in working condition.

  7. In many cases, the ships main engine and auxiliary engine are supplied by a single fuel supply or booster pump. Thus if there is a leakage the watchkeeper from his position in the machinery control room must stop all machinery when attempting to stop further leakage on the defective machine. Although advice may be given that the best course of action may be to stop all machinery, there will be occasions when promptly stopping the machine on which the leak has developed and isolating its fuel supply will suffice. Therefore in multi-engine installations supplied from the same fuel supply consideration should be given to fitting means of isolating the fuel supply to individual machines from the control room

  8. Heated surfaces particularly the exhaust systems of main and auxiliary diesel engines should be effectively insulated so that the surface temperature is below the auto-ignition temperature of any oil which may come in contact. It should be noted that different grades of hydrocarbon fuel and lubricating oil have different autoignition temperatures which can vary from 250°C - 600°C. This insulation should be provided with readily removable sections around joints, flanges and couplings to allow access for normal maintenance.

  9. It is essential electrical cables must be carried in trays attached to the deckhead over the engines. Because of limited headroom in the machinery spaces special attention must be paid to the need to protect them from adjacent fires. The effect of any fire protection arrangements on cable ratings and heat dissipation requirements will have to be considered.

  10. Several fires have been caused by pipe connections and fittings working loose. It is recommended that fuel, lubricating and hydraulic oil pipes, their fittings, connections and securing arrangements should be routinely checked at the same frequency as crankcase inspections of main and auxiliary engines. Care should be taken not to overtighten fittings during these checks.

  11. When maintenance or repair to the main or auxiliary engines has been carried out a check should be made to ensure that the insulation covering the heated surfaces has been properly replaced. A regular check of the engines should be made to confirm that the insulation is in place.

  12. Any fuel, lubricating or hydraulic oil leakages should be dealt with promptly. The double containment screening arrangements and pipe securing devices should be kept in good order.

  13. It is essential to avoid the most dangerous situation in which a small fire could spread to waste oil in the bilges or on tank tops where it could rapidly spread out of control. Cleanliness is essential for safety and a high standard must be maintained.

  14. No combustible material should be stored near any part of the oil installations. Bituminous or similar flammable compounds which give off noxious fumes on combustion should not be used in machinery and boiler spaces. Drums of lubricating oil, cleaning chemicals, detergents, etc, should not be stored in engine rooms.

  15. When repairs, however temporary, are carried out to the oil lines special attention must be paid to fire risks. Reports have been received of the repair to oil pressure lines with a plastic hose and "Jubilee" type clips. Such repairs place the vessel outside Classification and may reduce Underwriters liability. Although repairs using small lengths of piping inserted by means of compression type couplings may be justifiable in an emergency the general use of this method for permanent repairs is not recommended where high vibration levels are experienced. The subsequent failure of such repairs has led to fires causing a fatality. All repairs should be adequate to prevent any danger of leakage and should be to a standard which would stand exposure to fire. If there is evidence that the failure was caused by work hardening of the pipe material the complete pipe should be replaced.

  16. If a fire breaks out then the immediate alarm should be raised. It is impossible to offer advice to meet all circumstances but early decisions should be taken about the usefulness of remaining in the space or leaving to fight the fire remotely. Watchkeepers should try to isolate the cause and consider attempting to fight the fire. However, if the fire is developing rapidly they should vacate the engine room quickly. Unless everyone is accounted for the use of the fixed fire fighting installation will be delayed. Time lost searching for missing persons may allow the fire to spread and endanger other lives.

  17. All crew members and particularly those who work in machinery spaces should ensure that they are familiar with all means of escape including emergency exits which are not in normal day to day use, also the fixed fire fighting installation activation alarm.

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30 Sep '18, 12:24

Sept. 30, 2018, 12:24 p.m.
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