Fire extinguisher failure

Report Text:

An employee recently suffered a serious injury when a fire extinguisher exploded.

Debris was being cleared from the engine room of a vessel prior to dismantling.  During the course of the work the employee came across an old foam filled fire extinguisher.  In attempting to move the extinguisher it exploded causing multiple injuries.

On examination it was found that the cause of failure was heavy corrosion of the outer shell of the extinguisher.

This is a rare incident but is brought to the attention of the industry so that they are aware of the risks and take extra precautions where there is a likelihood of old fire extinguishers being present.

CHIRP Comment:

This alert was first published by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.  As their material is not generally circulated to the maritime community, CHIRP has reproduced it here.  The Maritime Advisory Board also wish to add the following comments:

  • Fire extinguishers should be serviced and pressure tested in accordance with Flag State and/or manufacturer’s requirements.
  • Particular attention should be paid to extinguishers stored in exposed/damp locations
  • The potential risks posed by pressure vessels should be considered before work is undertaken as part of risk assessment and individuals should be prepared to “stop the job” if an unexpected risk is encountered.