CHIRP has received several reports of hazardous occurrences that related to the lack maintenance of Fire Fighting Equipment (FFE) and retention onboard of out of date pyrotechnics, as follows:
a) During the preparation for a vetting inspection, it was observed that one of the international ship shore connections was incomplete, with eight washers and a rubber gasket missing. Whilst the vessel had two additional complete sets of international shore connections, this item was fixed to a wooden plate and at all times secured near the gangway. This construction had been made several years previously and had remained in place without inspection.
b) Two separate reports provided information on the inspection of FFE spares: These revealed that the number of spare extinguisher refills and gas cartridges were insufficient for the number of fire extinguishers carried on board. Instructions for recharging the extinguishers were not posted. In one case the validity of the liquid foam concentrate had expired by seven months. Corrective action included the submission of requisition orders to replenish stock, conduct crew training and the posting of manufacturer’s instructions in the safety locker.
c) Two reports noted that expired man overboard (MOB) lights were stowed in the Bosun’s store inside the accommodation. In the case of self-activation of these MOB lights, there is a serious risk of fire and of smoke being released, which can lead to inhalation problems, personal injuries and health hazards. In both of these cases they were removed and placed in the hazardous garbage bin with a special request to the local ship’s agent to dispose of the hazardous waste.
The importance of maintaining safety equipment cannot be under stated and perhaps training establishments should place greater emphasis on this important role for ship’s staff. Masters and superintendents should verify appropriate competence of the safety officer and include training of the crew. The inspection of this equipment should be included in the Planned Maintenance System, with a record of the minimum number of spares for refills and the date of expiry of the foam compound. All expired equipment must not be kept on board, with arrangements put in place for proper disposal at the next convenient port.