Survitec highlights increase in ship fire safety deficiencies

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Increase in fire safety deficiencies reported

Global Survival Technology solutions provider Survitec has highlighted the dangers of inadequate maintenance, testing, and inspection of ship fire safety systems in a new white paper.

The paper points to an alarming increase in fire-safety-related deficiencies found during Port State Control Inspections and subsequent ship detentions, as reported by Survitec.

The white paper, released at the Posidonia tradeshow, emphasises that fire continues to be a leading cause of major shipping incidents, accounting for over 20% of total losses and the most expensive cause of marine insurance claims.

In 2022, the Paris MoU recorded the highest level of fire safety deficiencies in a decade, and the Tokyo MoU reported an increase in detentions, with 15,562 deficiencies in 2023.

Economic downturn impacting fire safety standards

Survitec has found that the economic downturn and the emphasis on cost reduction post-COVID have negatively impacted fire safety.

Some shipowners and operators are maintaining and inspecting safety equipment themselves to save costs.

Metkel Yohannes, Director of Service & Rental Solutions at Survitec, said: “We’re finding basic errors and oversights that do not become apparent until either the ship fails an inspection and is detained – or there is a fire.”

He cited an example where a crew installed a new foam pump but forgot to remove a protective cap, causing a blockage.

Disparity in service quality and use of incorrect parts

Survitec also finds issues with the quality of parts used and the service quality between providers.

In CO2 firefighting systems, for example, hydraulic hoses are often mistaken for high-pressure hoses, which can burst under pressure.

Yohannes noted: “We see evidence of a slip in standards regarding basic safety practices but also a wide disparity in service quality between service providers.

“Approval stamps are being applied to fire systems and appliances that would or should not pass inspection.”

New fire risks with alternative fuels

The white paper highlights an incident involving a bulk carrier where a fire broke out shortly after leaving port, despite the vessel having passed a fire safety inspection.

Over half of the CO2 cylinders failed to activate, causing significant damage and resulting in repair costs estimated between $2-3 million USD.

Yohannes commented: “The development and introduction of alternative fuels, including the use and transportation of lithium-ion batteries, brings new fire risks and safety challenges that can’t be ignored.

“Fire systems and equipment must be maintained and tested as mandated by SOLAS, the IMO and the FSS code.”

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