Avoidance of Engine Room Fires

The direct cost of an engine room fire can be in the range of 1–4 million USD for a cargo vessel and much more for a passenger vessel. Off-hire and loss of goodwill adds to this figure and is perhaps the most difficult asset to replace. Engine room fires also represent a hazard for crew members working in that area and fire fighters.

2013.05.22 - Avoidance of Engine Room Fires Figure 1

According to DNV statistics, a shipowner operating 20 vessels can expect one major engine room fire every 10 years. Ship management should therefore include a clear policy of how to avoid such incidents.

2013.05.22 - Avoidance of Engine Room Fires Figure 2

2013.05.22 - Avoidance of Engine Room Fires Figure 3

In order to avoid engine room fires the most best precaution is to proactively look for:

Hot surfaces. Most fuel oils may spontaneously ignite if they hit surfaces with temperatures above 250°C. Class rules require that all surfaces above 220°C are to be shielded or insulated. As commonly noted by surveyors, such protection is often impaired under operation. Several methods can be used to detect hot surfaces.

2013.05.22 - Avoidance of Engine Room Fires Figure 4

The above picture shows cylinder hoods and engine body (only 100°C) and cut out for sensors (more than 300°C).

Fuel leakages. Sources of fuel leakage appear to be randomly distributed between flexible hoses, couplings, clogged filters and fractured pipes. Attention should be paid to installation, location and condition of all these components. It is recommended that oil systems within engine room on ships in operation are inspected periodically also by owner, as an addition to class inspections.

2013.05.22 - Avoidance of Engine Room Fires Figure 5

Flexible hoses such as the one shown above should only be installed where necessary to absorb vibrations. Bends on oil hoses, sharper than that shown on this picture, should be avoided.

Source: DNV

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