Subcontractor ROV control room damaged by fire

What happened?

An unmanned ROV control room container, located on the deck of accommodation jack-up, caught fire.  The fire team extinguished the on-board fire without any injury to personnel.  However, the ROV control room, as well as the ‘suitcase ROV’ (buoyancy fairing and chassis) were badly damaged.

What went wrong?  What were the causes?

  • The temporary container was not adequately fitted with fire protection. Only one battery-operated smoke detector and two portable extinguishers were in place;
  • The layout of equipment and materials within the container, including the presence of oily rags, created a fire risk which was not identified or managed during mobilisation or pre-use inspections. There was no evidence of ROV System audit/pre-mobilisation checklists being completed;
  • A portable air-conditioning (AC) unit that was being used within the container was not fit for purpose. The portable AC unit (that was fitted with a 13A fuse) was incorrectly connected using a British-to-M type adaptor, connected to a 16A outlet.  An electrical fault from this connection was found to be the most likely source of the fire.

What lessons were learned?

  • Scope of work requirements issued to subcontractors should include project specific requirements and industry standards relating to the electrical safety and fire protection of portable electric equipment;
  • Ensure that all third-party electrical equipment is inspected upon mobilisation to the vessel and confirmed fit for purpose, prior to use;
  • Site inspections and safety inspections should include checking the condition of portable electrical equipment and electrical connections.