Further to the latest report in Maritime FEEDBACK 44, a reporter has shared with us an investigation into an incident several years ago, in which a spark from burning equipment landed on pipework lagging and the paint on top of that lagging caught fire. The lagging had been stripped to an extent but had not been stripped completely. The build-up of paint on the deckhead covering the insulation is believed to be the main accelerant to the fire spreading across the space. This was subsequently confirmed in a separate test that created a similar situation.
At the time of the incident, the individuals concerned were carrying out deck penetrations from the deck above down to the room below in order to feed pipework through the penetrations.
Prior to the incident the pipe fitter supervisor had checked the area and shown the two pipe fitters the work and location that they had to complete the task. A burner and firewatcher were called in order to assist with the penetrations. The firewatcher signed out a ‘damping’ extinguisher in order to dampen the area directly below any penetrations, which were pop marked to show the exact location. He used this equipment for damping down all three penetrations. The Permit to work was followed and the local area cleared before work started.
The fire watch in the compartment below noticed black smoke and used the extinguisher in the vicinity of the smoke but the fire spread rapidly overhead. Consequently the fire alarm was sounded and the ship was evacuated.
What started out as routine work soon became a major fire – the message for all is, plan for the unexpected! The use of a fire blanket to cordon off areas where sparks can ignite adjacent areas is also a prudent precaution to take.