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Ship Fire Safety

 

Fire Protection, fire detection and fire extinction
Fire can be devastating on a ship - particularly on a passenger ship, where large numbers of people may need to be evacuated, or on a ship carrying inflammable cargo, with serious risks to crewmembers or to ports and harbours.

On 1 July 2002, a comprehensive new set of requirements for fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction on board ships entered into force as a new revised Chapter II-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended, incorporating technological advances in fire detection and extinction as well as lessons learned from fire incidents over the years.

The regulations are designed to ensure that fires are first of all prevented from occurring - for example by making sure that materials such as carpets and wall coverings are strictly controlled to reduce the fire risk; secondly, that any fires are rapidly detected; and thirdly; that any fire is contained and extinguished. Designing ships to ensure easy evacuation routes for crew and passengers are a key element of the chapter.

History of SOLAS fire protection requirements

1914 and 1929 SOLAS Conventions

The first fire protection requirements for international shipping were developed as part of the 1914 SOLAS Convention, which was developed in response to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Although the 1914 SOLAS Convention was prevented from coming into force due to World War I, it did contain basic fire safety requirements which were later carried over to the 1929 SOLAS Convention.

1948 and 1960 SOLAS Conventions

After the adoption of the 1929 SOLAS Convention, many lessons were learned about the safety of shipping in general, including fire protection, which led to the adoption of the 1948 SOLAS Convention. In 1934, a fire aboard the passenger ship Morro Castle caused 134 casualties. The investigation of the Morro Castle fire, and the lessons learned from it, played a major part in the development of the non-combustible construction regulations which today form the basis of the fire safety regulations for passengers ships. In addition, many advances in maritime technology were made during World War II and subsequently incorporated into the 1948 SOLAS Convention. As a result, a greater emphasis was placed on fire safety aboard ships and this was demonstrated by the development of three new parts (parts D, E and F) being added to chapter II of the 1948 SOLAS Convention which were exclusively dedicated to fire safety. In addition, the SOLAS 1948 requirements applied to both passenger ships and cargo ships.

The 1948 SOLAS Convention established three methods of construction for passenger ships and basic fire protection requirements for cargo ships. The 1948 SOLAS Convention was eventually updated with the 1960 SOLAS Convention. The most significant change incorporated into the 1960 SOLAS Convention, related to fire safety, was the application of certain passenger ship fire safety requirements to cargo ships.

SOLAS Conventions

1990 Scandinavian Star and the 1992-2000 Fire Safety Amendments

International Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code

 

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