Near Miss: Fire blanket caught fire during third-party hot work

What happened?

While conducting a fire watch round on a vessel in port, a 2nd mate noticed that a fire blanket on the midships fire hose box had caught fire. He immediately reported this to the Bridge and used an extinguisher to put the fire out.

What went wrong?

The fire started after a third-party team (hired to remove sea-fastenings) had left the job to have lunch after cleaning the grillages on deck. There were no injuries to personnel, no harm to the environment and only slight damage to the fire hose box.

What was the cause?

Our members’ preliminary observations were that:

  • There was incomplete recognition of all possible and likely hazards associated with the hot work activity – such as potential embers or residue that could ignite;
  • The third-party fire watch did not ensure that the area was clear of embers or residue that could ignite before leaving for a lunch break;
  • Potential poor quality of the fire blanket.

What actions were taken? What lessons were learned?

  • Review risk assessments related to sea fastening preparation and removal operations to ensure that all hazards associated with hot work are contained in the risk assessment – hazards associated with embers and/or residue that could ignite;
  • Full and thorough discussion of fire watch responsibilities;
  • Better and more continuous supervision of third-party contractors and their equipment.