Skip to content

Electrical fire in engine room

A member has reported the following incident which occurred onboard one of its vessels. Due to a sudden power fluctuation, evidenced by flickering lights, the chief engineer went to the engine room to investigate and detected smoke, with a foul smell emanating from the step-down transformer.

He panicked and shut off the main power breaker, causing the vessel to go adrift. He used two DCP-type fire extinguishers to douse the smoke. He tried to establish the cause of the incident and, after about five minutes, he bypassed the transformer and resumed the power supply.

The cause of the overheating of the transformer is under investigation. It is suspected that the transfer insulation and cooling fan may be at fault.

The member, in order to prevent reoccurrence of such an incident, has advised its personnel:

  • that it is absolutely necessary to stay calm and assess the situation before deciding on the course of action;
  • to conduct a periodic check of all overload relays, MCBs and fire/smoke detection systems for correct function;
  • to report defects and ensure corrective action is taken.

Safety Event

Published: 1 November 2001
Download: IMCA SF 13/01

IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

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 ( 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.