Hazard hunt: fire dampers and fixed firefighting systems

What happened?

A member reports four recent Port State Control detentions for its vessels; two of which related to fire safety, fire dampers and fixed firefighting equipment.  In one incident, the fire dampers for four engine room ventilation fans were found to be faulty.  On the same vessel, the manual isolation valve for the low-pressure CO2 firefighting system was found to be in a closed position.  Crew would not have been able to deploy the CO2 firefighting system into protected spaces from the remote location.  Additionally, the wrench used to open the manual isolation valve was not present in the local control area.

Corroded engine room fire damper
No ‘open’ or ‘close’ markings
Broken flap on engine room fire damper
Poor sealing of fire damper
Brittle hose on fixed CO2 bottles
Low pressure valves for CO2 system kept closed
Disconnected CO2 bottles
Faulty CO2 actuation valves

What lessons were learned?

  • Check that fire dampers are free of damage and corrosion;
  • Check that fire dampers are clearly marked including open and closed positions;
  • Ensure fire dampers are easy to operate;
  • Ensure flame screens are in good condition;
  • All operating handles, wires and stoppers should be in good working condition;
  • All such equipment should be regularly inspected and maintained as part of a planned maintenance system;
  • Crew should be familiar with the operation of fire dampers and this familiarity should be checked regularly with drills.