Real Life Incident: Unidentified Fire Damper Hazard Contributes To Injury

During a Port State Control (PSC) inspection, the inspector asked the engine room crew to demonstrate the function of one of the engine room ventilation fire dampers by moving the lever to the closed position.

The crew member grabbed the lever in the middle and pulled to close the damper. The damper closed rapidly to its maximum and was then stopped by the welded limiter block. Because the crew member was holding the lever in the middle, his finger was caught between the lever arm and limiter block and heavily squeezed.

fire damper hazard
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Neither the lever arm nor the limiter were marked in any way to warn of this hazard. Apart from the lack of hazard identification, another contributing factor was that engine room dampers may not be subject to regular operation. Crew may hesitate to shut these dampers or otherwise be unfamiliar with the particulars of a specific damper lever.

Lessons learned

  • Identify all hazards on your vessel. Each close call or accident presents opportunities for identification and risk reduction measures.
  • Practise closing engine room dampers with crew when the vessel is in port and the main engine(s) are not running. The more familiar crew are with each lever, the more efficient they will be in case of an emergency or PSC inspection.


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