Smouldering coiled extension cable

What happened?

While ventilating a manhole in the engine room, the fire alarm was triggered when an electrical extension lead overheated, melting the insulation and started smouldering.

What went wrong?

Investigations confirmed that the electrical extension lead was not laid out in the correct manner and was still around 80% coiled.  Also, the extension lead was the incorrect specification for the task of providing power to the blower.

What were the causes?

  • Seafarers were unaware of the need to run out all the extension lead when using them;
  • The extension leads available on board were not of an appropriate or correct specification.

What lessons were learned?

  • Provide correct, fit for purpose specification extension leads;
  • Ensure coiled electrical leads are unwound totally prior to use and include such instructions in safety management system (SMS) and on coil casing;
  • Positive: all fire systems were operational, checked, drilled and crews reacted immediately alarm sounded.

What actions were taken?

  • Thorough audit of all extension leads to ensure correct specifications, and removed all non-approved leads;
  • Add electrical lead management to power and hand tools procedures, training and challenge tests in vessel SMS.