Skip to content

Plastic cover on smoke detector

What happened?

During an inspection of vessel accommodation by shore management, it was observed that a plastic cover was obstructing a smoke detector. During construction work in the area the cover was used to prevent activation but was not removed when the work was finished.

What were the causes?

  • Lack of risk perception – smoke detectors are designed to warn individuals that something is on fire. A plastic cover will prevent it from working;
  • Stop Work Policy was not applied – crew must have seen it but did nothing about it! No-one challenged this unsafe practice;
  • Inspections were not conducted – this illustrates the importance of periodic inspection of fire protection systems to ensure that they are maintained in serviceable condition.

What actions were taken

  • Our member arranged a “Time Out for Safety” with all vessels’ crew to emphasize the hazards associated with blocking and covering of smoke detectors;
  • Further fire inspection on-board the vessel to check the condition of the other smoke detectors

Member may wish to refer to:

  • Be alarmed by all alarms – USCG safety alert regarding the possible consequences of failing to take proper actions when faced with alarm signals from equipment.

Safety Event

Published: 19 February 2020
Download: IMCA SF 06/20

Relevant life-saving rules:
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.