The Marine Safety Forum (MSF) reports an incident in which, during the early hours of the morning during a period of adverse weather, the fire alarm in the vessel battery locker was activated. The crew mustered and the fire team assembled and upon investigation it was discovered that there was a small flame and sparks being emitted from a spare battery that was stored in the battery locker on the top shelf.
What were the causes of the incident?
The battery had been delivered during the previous port call and stored within the battery locker. Unfortunately, it had been placed on a storage shelf with no attempt to secure it in place. During a period of heavy weather, the battery tipped onto its side and slid against the steel lining of the bulkhead.
As the battery terminals were not covered, this caused the battery to short circuit and led to it overheating. Once the battery had reached ignition temperature, the casing melted, setting off the fire alarm.
What lessons were learnt? And what were the actions?
- Everything loose on a vessel should be secured in place to prevent movement. Assume nothing; secure everything;
- All spare batteries should have the terminals covered with insulating material to prevent accidental shorting.
The incident is available on theMSF website.
Members may wish to refer to the following incidents:
IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.
IMCA’s store terms and conditions (https://www.imca-int.com/legal-notices/terms/) apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.
IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.