Security/Emergency Escape Conflict

Report Text:

I would like to bring to your attention an issue which many people appear to be overlooking.

The problems with emergency escapes and security are well and frequently documented, and in the main I would agree with your comments.

However, most people appear to be concerned with emergency exit only, and in my opinion they seem to be forgetting emergency entry.

I am an ISPS and ISM auditor and have conducted many ISPS audits over the past 18 months.  All too frequently I am seeing all exits from the engine room (for example) secured from the inside, allowing emergency escape.  Should the shore based fire services, or indeed an on-board fire party, need to access the engine room from a particular point for cooling or rescue purposes, they would often find that they can not.

Many ships are now considering this issue and are providing means of securing from both sides that neither hinder emergency escape nor authorised emergency entry (mechanical key-pads, removable hasps etc.)

It may be worth making this point clear.

There are 2 effective methods that I could cite:

  1. Removable hasps on weather tight doors – allowing padlocking from outside which can be released from inside by (for example) release of a butterfly nut. (Drawing would be an advantage here – I can endeavour to get one done if this would help)
  2. Mechanical keypads on other doors.  Quick release from inside, and number is known to all ship’s staff, who can provide this to shore based emergency services if required.

The latter may suffer if exposed to weather, but so far I have had no reports of this occurring.

Both methods are, in my opinion, cheap, effective, and compliant with both safety and security issues.

CHIRP Comment:

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency provided some helpful suggestions which were published in FEEDBACK 8.  They also provided CHIRP with some examples they have encountered which we are happy to reproduce.

First, what appears to be a padlocked escape hatch is not all it seems.



On closer examination it was found that the external dog on the escape hatch had been removed and a padlocked cover installed.  From inside the escapee would not notice any change; having to release the same number of dogs.

If access to the engine room was required via the escape the officer of the watch and deck ratings all had keys that fitted the padlock.  The cover could be released and a spanner used on the dog’s spindle to release the dog.



Here is another example demonstrating an emergency means of access through a padlock key control system and an internal quick release device.