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Battery fire

What happened?

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:

Safety Event

Published: 25 May 2017
Download: IMCA SF 12/17

Relevant life-saving rules:
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