Safety at sea with Hochiki

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Exploring the unique challenges of fire safety at sea and how Hochiki is rising to meet these demands

Marine vessels and offshore structures like ships, submarines, and oil rigs have distinct fire safety challenges.

With enclosed, hard-to-access areas and distances far from shore, fires become particularly hazardous.

It is essential for their onboard fire detection systems to uphold top-tier standards, given the absence of immediate external help.

These systems must promptly detect fire indicators even in tough conditions like extreme temperatures, vibrations, salt spray, and high humidity to ensure timely responses and continued performance.

In pursuit of enhancing marine safety, the Hochiki ESP Marine Approved Range emerges as a beacon of innovation and reliability.

This article delves into the strict requirements and the capabilities of this product range, and the significant role it plays in safeguarding lives and assets on the high seas.

What are the safety standards required for marine fire detection devices?

Any fire detection devices on board sea bound vessels, must be marine approved.

The M.E.D. 96/98/EC Directive is an initiative of the European Commission (EC) in the European Union (EU) set up with the intention to reduce costs for the end user by having a simplified classification model for marine approvals.

All approved and authorised products are stored in the MarED database, which to date contains more than 35,000 datasets about products approved under the EU Marine Equipment Directive.

Products are strictly tested by a third-party, such as Germanischer Lloyd or LPCB, for use in the marine environment before being granted an approval certificate.

For this very reason, it is also important to work with installers and engineers who are experienced in marine life safety.

Hochiki’s Marine Approved Intelligent and Conventional products have been designed around the existing world-proven ESP and CDX ranges and have been approved for marine use by both Germanischer Lloyd and LPCB, to the MED approval scheme.

Ideal for use on ships, oil and gas platforms, wind farms and other similar applications the Hochiki Marine Approved Range incorporates the same reliability and quality as its core product range.

Innovation and adaptions

Hochiki’s range boasts advanced sensor technology with state-of-the-art smoke, heat, and multi-sensor detectors offering unmatched precision.

These detectors quickly identify minute smoke traces or temperature shifts, ensuring early hazard detection.

Notably, the multi-sensor detectors merge various technologies, discerning genuine threats from benign changes, thus minimising false alarms—a vital feature in marine settings.

Addressing the severe marine conditions, the ESP Marine Approved Range prioritises durability and appropriate material choice.

Through intensive testing, these detectors secured marine certification, affirming their reliability amidst marine challenges.

Highlighting their resilience, Hochiki devices are employed in the Margate offshore wind farm.

Despite harsh conditions characterised by fluctuating weather and sea-salt spray, these devices consistently deliver, ensuring both the safety of personnel and efficient operations, as vouched for by Dan Smith of KM Security Solutions: “The constant change in weather combined with sea-salt spray makes offshore wind farms an incredibly hostile environment to work in, not only for people but also for the systems, cabling and devices that help to run it and keep it safe. 

“Therefore, it’s imperative we install life safety devices that won’t let the teams and premises down in an emergency.

Hochiki’s ESP Marine Approved range offers unparalleled scalability, catering to the varying sizes and complexities of maritime installations, from modest fishing vessels to grand offshore structures.

This adaptability guarantees that every marine entity, regardless of its magnitude, can avail the superior safety protocols that Hochiki delivers.

One noteworthy application is its integration into a renovated hotel barge by Perenco in Gabon, intended to accommodate their offshore rig staff.

During the barge’s refurbishment, Perenco aimed to upgrade the outdated life safety systems, ensuring adherence to Gabonese regulations and aptness for marine challenges.

Tasked with this responsibility, Autochim, with Jean-Marie Rabier at the helm, endorsed Hochiki Europe’s solutions.

The barge, with its diverse sections from kitchens to engine rooms, demanded distinct safety solutions.

Hochiki’s specialised marine equipment met these unique requirements, promising optimal protection for its inhabitants.

Intelligent alerting

Hochiki’s ESP Marine Approved Range emphasises swift and precise communication during maritime emergencies, integrating advanced notification mechanisms like audible and visual alarms to promptly alert crews.

Leveraging the Enhanced Systems Protocol with interrupt processing, the system ensures a response time of less than 1.5 seconds from alert to fire indication.

Additionally, its intelligent alert system provides detailed emergency insights, allowing for efficient response and safeguarding data integrity to maintain unwavering reliability.

Comprehensive detection

A comprehensive fire detection system on board a marine vessel is crucial for the safety of passengers, crew, and the vessel itself.

Hochiki’s ESP Marine Approved Range, designed specifically for marine applications, exemplifies the brand’s dedication to creating solutions that meet the unique challenges posed by maritime environments.

Here are the key components and features that a fire detection system onboard a marine vessel should include:

Multi-sensors, Smoke, and Heat Detectors

These devices are placed strategically throughout the vessel, especially in areas where fire risks are higher, such as engine rooms, galleys, electrical rooms, and cabins.

Smoke detectors sense the presence of smoke particles, while heat detectors monitor rapid increases in temperature.

Both types of detectors provide early indications of a fire.

Multi-sensors incorporate more than one sensing element within a single device (heat, smoke, and sometimes carbon dioxide).

These sensors can operate two or more sensing elements in combination to determine a fire condition.

Manual Call Points

Easily accessible manual call points (sometimes known as manual pull stations) allow crew members or passengers to initiate the fire alarm manually when they spot a fire or smoke.

These stations should be located along escape routes and in key gathering areas.

Flame Detectors

Flame detectors can identify the presence of flames by detecting specific wavelengths of light emitted by fires.

These detectors are particularly useful for areas with potential fuel leaks or where a fast-acting fire could occur.

Gas Detectors

Gas detectors can identify the presence of potentially hazardous gases, such as combustible gases or toxic fumes.

In marine environments, gas leaks can contribute to fire hazards, so detecting them early is crucial.

Fire Alarm Control Panel

This panel serves as the central hub of the fire detection system, receiving signals from various detectors and initiating alarms.

It provides visual and audible alerts, indicates the location of the fire, and allows for manual control of alarms.

The fire detection system should integrate with other onboard systems, such as the vessel’s automation and control system, to facilitate coordinated responses to emergencies.

The control panel will provide this integration.

Alarm Notification Devices

Strobe lights, sirens, and sounder beacons should be strategically placed throughout the vessel to ensure that all occupants are alerted to the presence of a fire, especially in noisy or visually impaired environments. 

Remote Monitoring and Alerts

Many modern fire detection systems and emergency lighting systems allow for remote monitoring, enabling the crew to receive alerts and updates even when they’re not in the immediate vicinity of the alarm panel.

Emergency Communication System

An integrated communication system ensures that critical information is relayed to passengers and crew members in case of a fire, guiding them on evacuation procedures and safe areas.

Redundancy and Reliability

The system should have built-in redundancy to minimise the risk of system failures.

This could involve duplicate detectors or backup power sources.

In addition to this list, regular maintenance and testing should be carried out by experts.

Proper maintenance and regular testing are essential to ensure that all components of the fire detection system are functioning correctly when needed.

Regular training of crew members and passengers on how to respond to fire alarms and emergencies is also crucial for a successful evacuation and mitigation process.

The maritime industry inherently involves risks, but with the Hochiki ESP Marine Approved Range, these risks can be mitigated significantly.

By harnessing advanced sensor technology, adaptability to harsh marine conditions, and intelligent alerting systems, the ESP Marine Approved range exemplifies a new era of marine safety systems.

Its ability to detect and respond to emergencies swiftly and effectively can make the critical difference between life and death at sea.

Hochiki’s dedication to innovation and unwavering commitment to safeguarding lives and assets have positioned the ESP Marine Approved Range as an industry leader, setting new benchmarks for marine safety.

As vessels continue to navigate the vast oceans, this product range serves as a reliable guardian, ensuring that maritime journeys are not only efficient and productive but also secure for everyone on board.

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This article was originally published in the October 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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