Using fixed fire fighting systems is the last resort on board ships to fight a major fire. Majority of the seafarers during their entire career tenure do not get a chance to use the fixed fire fighting system, and in fact secretly wish that they do not ever have to face such situation.
However, an emergency can occur any time and therefore it is important that the ship’s crew is aware of the design and operation of the fixed firefighting system installed on board.
Fixed foam firefighting system non-lethal in nature and can be used even when there are human present inside the fire affected room/room. This makes the initial time duration for application of fire fighting system shorter as compared to the CO2 system which requires evacuation of personnel before operation.
Once the fire is extinguished, the ship’s crew has to make a re-entry in the affected place to assess the damage to the ship’s equipment.
Following common precautions and procedures need to be considered for all fixed fire fighting systems installed on ship:
- Never enter a place soon after extinguishing of fire, especially pump room, engine room etc. due to high temperature. Allow time to cool down
- Ensure breathing apparatus, explosion proof lights and gas analyzers are present for making an entry
- Once it is confirmed that the fire has extinguished, remove all chances of re-ignition and ensure the room is cool enough. Exchange air inside the room by using forced air blowers
- Keep checking the level of oxygen and other gases when working/ assessing inside the room
- The oxygen analyzer and gas detectors should be of explosion proof type
- When entering the room, enter as a team (of 2 people). A stand by team needs to be ready for evacuation with breathing apparatus (BA) and other safety equipment if something goes wrong
Following precautions and checks need to carried out once the foam fixed fire fighting system is used for fire extinguishing purpose:
- The place will be acquired with plenty of drainage which is a mixture of water and foam. Use pumps to remove the drain mixture
- Ensure there are no gases present in the room and pumps are in good working condition before using as it may lead to secondary accidents such as explosion or electrical shocks
- Use fresh water mist while cleaning the foam from the room
- Keep checking the gas content in the room as during cleaning, foam may contain poisonous gases which was produced during the fire
- The electric machinery and systems covered with foam should be wiped out using cloth
- All the machinery to be inspected prior cleaning is finished. If internal electric parts or panels are still moist, use hot air blow to clean the same
- After complete use of foam system, drain out foam solution lines and liquid lines by air blow
- Check the level of the foam liquid tank and refill it to the required level
- Check the foam discharge nozzle in the fire area and foam generator for any fire damages
- Check all the valves involved in the discharging of foam are set to normal ready-to-use position. If the foam discharged is done manually, set the manual button to normal ready-to-use position
The above points are required to ensure the affected space is checked and cleaned, and the machinery in that space is ready for further usage. The foam system needs to be made normal as soon as possible to ensure it is ready for any other emergency situation in near future.
Note: The above mentioned is not an exhaustive list but mentions all important points for precautions and checks while using fire fighting system. Do you know any other important point that should be added to the list? Let’s know in the comments below.