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Fire-fighting equipment in poor condition

What happened?

Several 50kg wheeled dry powder fire extinguishers on board a vessel were found to have low pressure and heavy signs of corrosion. This was discovered during an audit walk-around by shore-based personnel.

Fire extinguishers being absolutely crucial safety equipment on a vessel, they should be maintained to the very highest standards in full readiness for use in an emergency. Regular thorough inspection of fire-fighting equipment to verify that this is so, is a regulatory requirement in some countries including the UK.

What went wrong?

  • There had been a regular monthly inspection of the firefighting equipment onboard, but the person inspecting the equipment had not highlighted its poor condition;
  • The crew were unaware of the detail and quality required in planned inspection of firefighting equipment.


  • Thorough and comprehensive inspection of all fire extinguishers and fire fighting equipment on board/site to ensure all are in sound workable condition;
  • Removal and quarantine of defective fire extinguishers and other safety critical equipment not in safe and usable condition, and relevant repairs or replacements ordered;
  • Additional control measures to be put in place until replacements /repairs implemented;
  • Regular maintenance: Monthly visual inspection of fire fighting equipment by crew and annual service by authorized third party provider;
  • Crew Training: Conduct regular awareness sessions to ensure sufficient knowledge of relevant crew members on how to conduct quality visual inspections of firefighting equipment as well as to emphasize the importance of timely reporting of any safety concerns.

 IMCA notes that this is recurring issue; we have published similar incidents in the past. Please refer to:

Near-miss: Hyperbaric fire extinguisher incident

Safety Event

Published: 30 October 2023
Download: IMCA SF 25/23

Relevant life-saving rules:
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