A number of interesting observations were made in conjunction with a machine room fire on a ferry recently. The fire broke out after a fuel pipe leading to a manometer burst and fuel oil sprayed onto a nearby turbine. The ship had a number of main engines in the same machine room.
To extinguish the fire the ship’s engineer was going to activate the local fire extinguishing system, which covered all engines. However, he was not able to do this before the control room was so filled with smoke that it had to be evacuated. The fire was eventually extinguished using CO2 despite the fact that there were several problems, primarily related to the power supply of pumps and other equipment.
The following information is now available:
• There is reason to question the layout of local fire protection. Had this been divided into smaller sections, for example to each individual main engine, it would probably have been easier to handle the situation.
• Local protection that operates well can effectively prevent major damage. If the release is manual, it must be part of a well-practiced routine.
• Obviously there were unsealed lead-throughs in bulkheads and doors between the machine room and the control room since the smoke from the fire leaked in. It appears to be common that lead-throughs are not sealed sufficiently. This involves considerable risks, irrespective of whether of the area is separated into different fire sections or not.
• The pipe leading to the manometer was not original. It had been affected by fatigue, probably as a result of tensions built in when it was installed. This may have arisen or been made worse by somebody standing or climbing on pipe.
• Heat protection for the engines was not sufficiently effective. There is reason to underline the importance of off replacing such protection after maintenance work and that any deficiencies, such as oily or damaged insulation, must be rectified.
• A full-scale test is recommended to examine the electrical power supply. Only then is there a reasonable chance of finding any faults in the system.
SFu dnr 06.05.02 2009-832