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1990 Scandinavian Star and the 1992-1996 Fire Safety Amendments

In 1990, a fire aboard the Scandinavian Star passenger ship left 158 persons dead. The incident raised a number of issues relating to fire protection and evacuation.

In December 1992, IMO adopted a comprehensive set of fire safety amendments, applicable to both new and existing passenger ships. The amendments required the installation of the latest fire safety features applicable to any modern hotel such as automatic sprinkler and smoke detection systems, and the upgrading of fire safety bulkheads to non-combustible materials and improved methods for assisting escaping persons, such as use of low location lighting.

Also in 1992, the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection agreed to undertake a comprehensive revision of SOLAS chapter II-2 as it was felt that the adoption, over a number years, of various sets of amendments, made the chapter difficult to use and implement. Technological advancements and lessons learned from accidents, since the chapter’s last revision in 1981, required new provisions to be added and for existing requirements to be modified. However, the outcome of this eight year effort resulted in more than just a “user-friendly” amalgamation of the latest amendments, but an entirely new structure for SOLAS chapter II-2 which will better accommodate the way port and flag States and ship designers deal with fire safety issues in the future.

In particular, the existing chapter had many vague phrases such as “to the satisfaction of the Administration” or “a means shall be provided”. In fact, there were over 200 such phrases used throughout the chapter. In addition, the existing chapter had no support structure to accommodate novel designs and features and there was little focus on the human element, an issue which is now receiving a great deal of attention given that 80% maritime casualties are attributed to human factors.

1996 amendments and International Code for Application of Fire Test Procedures (FTP Code)

The 1996 amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 - which entered into force in 1998 - included changes to the general introduction, Part B (fire safety measures for passenger ships), Part C (fire safety measures for cargo ships) and Part D (fire safety measures for tankers).

A new International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures was also developed and made mandatory on 1 July 1998. The Code is for use by Administrations when approving products for installation in ships flying their flag.

The FTP Code provides international requirements for laboratory testing, type approval and fire test procedures for the:

non-combustibility test;
smoke and toxicity test;
test for ''A'', ''B'' and ''F'' class divisions;
test for fire door control systems;
test for surface flammability;
test for primary deck coverings;
test for vertically supported textiles and films;
test for upholstered furniture; and
test for bedding components.


2000 amendments - revised chapter II-2

In December 2000, IMO adopted a completely revised SOLAS chapter II-2, which entered into force on 1 July 2002.

The new structure focuses on the "fire scenario process" rather than on ship type, as the previous SOLAS chapter II-2 was structured. Thus, the regulations start with prevention, detection, and suppression following all the way through to escape. In addition, to make the revised SOLAS chapter II-2 more user-friendly, specific system-related technical requirements have been moved to the new International Fire Safety Systems Code and each regulation has a purpose statement and functional requirements to assist port and flag States.

The revised SOLAS chapter II-2 has a new part E that deals exclusively with human element matters such as training, drills and maintenance issues and a new part F that sets out a methodology for approving alternative (or novel) designs and arrangements

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