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Fire fighting procedure for solid, liquid or electrical fire on board liquefied gas carriers
If any of the ship's personnel should discover a fire, they should immediately activate the nearest
fire alarm switch and then contact the bridge or engine room, to report the location of the fire and
should inform anyone met on the way. All other personnel must report to their muster points on
hearing the alarm. The engine room should be advised as soon as possible of the extent and
location of the fire so that all necessary services can be made ready.
If the fire is small, the person discovering it should attempt to extinguish it by the nearest suitable
available means, after raising the alarm. Should it not be possible to retard the fire's progress, the
discoverer should report to their muster station.
It must be emphasised that although prompt
action of this kind may be successful in extinguishing a fire before it takes hold or spreads,
valuable time can be wasted by one person trying to extinguish an established fire, instead of
raising the alarm and alerting other personnel to the location and extent of the fire. Also, if a space
is filling with smoke and fumes, the person attempting to fight a fire may become a casualty. In
this situation, the best thing the person discovering a fire can do is get out quickly and, if
necessary, escape should be made by crawling on hands and knees as the air close to deck level is
likely to be relatively smoke free.
The four stages in successful fire fighting are:
Find - Even if a fire is only suspected, it is essential that the alarm is raised immediately so that
the maximum fire fighting potential of the ship can be mustered immediately.
Inform – This includes prompt reporting of the location of the fire and immediate sounding of the
alarm, or confirmation of an automatically generated alarm, and notifying the engine room and/or
bridge of the location. Fire alarm switches are located at strategic points around the ship.
Restrict - The most effective initial action may be to reduce the flow of air to the fire by closing
doors and other openings, followed by prompt application of the appropriate extinguishing
medium. Having established the location of the fire, the officer in charge of fire fighting operations
must quickly decide:
- Whether any person is at risk.
- What is burning?
- The extent of the fire.
- What combustibles are in the immediate vicinity and the surrounding spaces adjacent to
the area on fire?
- What vents or other channels are present that would assist the spreading of the fire.
- What method or methods of extinguishing are appropriate?
- What is the best technique to adopt to prevent the fire spreading and to extinguish it.
Extinguish - Ensuring that no re-ignition occurs.
Liquid fires, particularly those involving low flash point petroleum products, present the most
serious fire fighting problem on board ships. Of the three factors that are necessary to produce a
fire, fuel, heat and air, the removal of fuel is rarely practicable, except in the case of a burst cargo
hose, when the closing of the manifold valve or stopping of the pumps will cut off the supply of
fuel or a spray from a fractured pipe, or when the stopping of the fuel pump or operation of quick
closing valves will cut off the supply of fuel.
The removal of heat from a low flash point oil fire, once established, is not practical because such
oils give off flammable vapours at normal or sub-normal temperatures. It is therefore necessary to
remove the third factor, air, by means of smothering agents such as foam or CO2, together with
the sealing of the compartment. These methods must be adopted immediately with a low flash
point oil fire.
High flash point oils, such as fuel oil, diesel oil and lubricating oil, should be attacked in one of two
ways, depending on whether the fire is well established or not. In its early stages, a fire may be
effectively dealt with by cooling the oil surface with advancing sweeps of fog or spray across its
whole width. This technique is known as progressive cooling. It is highly effective because in the
early stages the fire is only fed from the vapours of a thin hot layer of oil. The longer the fire
burns, the deeper this heated layer of oil becomes and, if the fire cannot be quickly extinguished,
or if it has been burning for a long time, smothering as for a low flash point oil must be resorted
Solid fires are usually associated with woodwork, bedding, clothes, stores, etc. and may occur
anywhere on board, but particularly in the accommodation and storerooms. The combustibles of
this class of fire leave embers and therefore CO2 or dry chemical should not be used except as a
first-aid measure. Water, especially in a jet, is the most effective agent for this class of fire and
should always be used. Inside the accommodation, first-aid hose reels, if fitted, are speedy and
effective fire fighting appliances as they are always ready for immediate use and are also easy to
handle. Foam, because of its water content, may be used in the later stages so as to avoid the
possibility of re-ignition when air regains contact with the embers.
The greatest hazard presented by this class of fire is the possibility of it spreading to the ship's
cargo, or, if in ballast and not gas free, to any explosive vapours in the tanks. Speed in the
application of water is essential and care should be taken to protect the surrounding areas by the
cooling effect of water. Ideally, the jet-spray nozzles should be used so that jet or spray may be
applied as circumstances require. Where two jets are available, one may be set for jet to attack the
fire and the other for spray to protect fire-fighters. A close approach to the seat of a fire is often
possible with these techniques.
It is important that combustible material involved in a fire is pulled apart to make certain that the
extinguishing agent can penetrate all parts of the burning materials and that they are thoroughly
wetted down, even if the fire is considered to be extinguished. When a fire involving solid materials
is apparently extinguished, a constant watch must be kept with appliances available for instant
use, to prevent any re-ignition. The length of such a watch will vary greatly, depending on
It is important to bear in mind the toxicity of fumes/smoke given off when certain products used in
accommodation and electrical fittings burn, and it is therefore necessary to protect fire-fighters by
the use of breathing apparatus.
The following table gives examples of the toxic products given off
by the combustion of materials commonly found in ship’s accommodation.
Burning material & Toxic Products
- Any combustible material (all contain carbon) : CO and CO2
- Polyurethane : Nitrogen oxides
- Wool, silk, plastics containing nitrogen: Hydrogen cyanide
- Cellulose, plastics, rayon : Formic and acetic acid
- Wood, paper : Acrolein (tear gas)
- Rubber : Sulphur dioxide
- PVC fire retardant plastics : Halogen acids and phosgene
- Melamine, nylon, urea formaldehyde plastics : Ammonia
- Phenol formaldehyde, (Bakelite) : Aldehydes
- Polystyrene : Gasoline
- Polyurethane foam : Iso-cyanates
Electrical fires may be caused by electrical short circuits, overheating, or the spreading of a solid or
liquid fire. The circuits must be isolated and CO2 or dry chemical extinguishers should be used,
both of which are non-conductors of electricity. If neither of these extinguishers are available,
water fog or foam may be used in that order of preference, but they should be used only as a last
resort and with extreme caution.
Should a fire occur on the main switchboard, every effort should be made to extinguish it with the
non-conducting agents and, only when these efforts have failed, should recourse be made to the
use of foam appliances and water fog. This will, however necessitate the complete isolation of the
switchboard, which in itself will reduce the choice of fire fighting media available.
Below is more guideline on Fire hazards, sources of ignition and necessary precautions
Fire hazards and precautions - Atmosphere Control For Gas Carrier
Fire hazards and precautions - Sources of Ignition in Liquefied Gas Carrier
Matters that require attention to onboard work
Fire hazards and precautions against statistic electricity in liquefied gas carrier
Liquefied gases - Health hazards
- Guideline to tackle fire on board LNG ship
- Fire fighting plan for liquefied gas carrier
- Design characteristics of liquefied gas carriers
- Liquefied gas carrier -applicable regulations
- Vapour Characteristics of liquefied gases
- Low temperature effects of Liquefied gases
- Reactivity of liquefied gas cargo and safety guideline
How LNG is transported ? Is it safe ?
Liquefied gases - How to remove all cargo liquid from tanks
Cargo Information - physical and chemical properties necessary for the safe containment of the cargo
Liquefied gas carrier -monitoring cargo pressure
Liquefied gases - Health hazards
Liquefied gas cargo reactivity
Liquefied gas cargo corrosion
Liquefied gas cargo vapour characteristics
Liquefied gas cargo - low temperature effects
Liquefied gas carrier -monitoring cargo pressure
External links :
International maritime organization
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