CHIRP has received several reports concerning removal of heat protection from engines including jacketed fuel lines, fuel pump covers and, in the report below, indicator cocks. This can lead to fuel spraying onto hot surfaces with a high risk of fire.
What the Reporter told us:
Recently, I noticed that indicator cock covers had been removed from the engine which was in an operational mode. When I questioned this, I was told that it was too troublesome and too hot to remove the cocks with the engine running. During my next watch, I noticed all the indicator cocks had been removed and hidden to prevent re-fitting. I attempted to raise the matter with the Company, but I did not receive a positive response. I am now reluctant to contact the DPA. I will continue to challenge this unsafe behaviour and amend the checklists to include the line “Fit Indicator Cock Covers”. The next time there is an ISM audit or classification survey, the surveyors can see that it was a conscious decision to ignore using them.
The Maritime Advisory Board noted that this report highlights both technical and human element related issues. Primarily it demonstrates a cavalier and dangerous attitude towards safety from some quarters. It also demonstrates that such an attitude has repercussions – in this case the unwillingness of the reporter to approach the DPA, which is a significant issue. CHIRP has many examples where the attitude of others, whether deliberate or otherwise, deters personnel from approaching the DPA.
An unprotected indicator cock – non-compliant and a high-risk area for igniting a fire
From the technical viewpoint, indicator cocks are steel valves that are fitted to the cylinders of an engine. The valve is a direct link to the combustion space of each cylinder which allows compression and firing pressures to be taken from an engine in service for maintenance/diagnostic purposes. Due to their nature, indicator cocks are extremely hot when the engine is in operation and need to have protection to avoid becoming a source of ignition from any fuel that may impinge upon the surface.
SOLAS Reg. II-2/15.2.10 states that “All surfaces with temperatures above 220° C which may be impinged as a result of a fuel system failure shall be properly insulated.”
The purpose of insulating hot surfaces is to prevent any flammable liquid from coming into contact with them, thereby minimising the risk of ignition. This should ensure that no exposed surface has a temperature above 220°C. The insulation material must be fit for purpose, i.e. made of non-combustible material with a non-oil absorbing surface. It is important to ensure proper insulation of flanges, indicator cocks, bolts and studs and other protruding parts. Even water-cooled exhaust manifolds may have flange connections with temperatures exceeding 220°C. Known trouble spots are;
- indicator valves (cocks)
- exhaust pipes from each cylinder
- exhaust manifold, in particular overlaps between steel sheets and lagging
- turbochargers, in particular flanges
- cut outs for pressure / temperature sensors, etc
CHIRP would highlight that it is good practice to have a regular thorough inspection of all equipment to ensure that any deficiencies may be rectified, and any potential sources of leakage identified. Searching for hot spots and insulation defects with infra-red thermal imaging equipment is also useful.
We encourage more reports of this nature since they demonstrate a hazard with a high potential for disaster.