Engine Room Safety Alert: Pipe Compression fittings and Fire Prevention

Engine Room Safety Alert released by Lloyd’s Register

Lloyd’s Register has released an Engine Room Safety Alert following the conclusions of a recent maritime safety report by Federal Bureau. It has again highlighted the need for constant vigilance, maintenance and safety procedures. In particular, care is required when positioning and fitting compression fittings involving possible flammable liquids and oils that can impinge on nearby hot surfaces, which then combine to ignite, causing a serious fire in the engine room/machinery space.

Having investigated the fire in the main engine room of the German flagged ferry, the German Federal Bureau of Marine Casualty Investigation has concluded that the location of a “hydraulic oil reservoir/accumulator attached to the main gearbox” and its resultant pressure gauge compression connection union failed. This resulted in hydraulic oil being sprayed in the vicinity of the main engine turbo charger and exhaust pipe, resulting in the fire.

The fire was speedily contained and extinguished by the vessel’s fire-fighting extinguishing systems and there were no reported casualties. However, some crew members experienced inhaled smoke effects and the event caused delays, and inconvenience to the vessel’s operations as widespread equipment replacement was needed.

During the investigation, it was found that while previous thermographic inspections had been carried out, they had not identified the problem of the hydraulic coupling being near a potential ignition point in the vicinity of the main engine turbo charger.

To offset failures and maintain safety, Lloyds Register recommends the following:
– Periodic recorded thermographic inspections of the machinery plant to identify potential “heat sources” and their proximity to possible “fuel sources” such as hydraulic oils, fuels and other energy sources that may impinge on heat sources.
– After and during any repairs or modifications, requisite protection such as insulation blankets, covers and cladding protection are replaced and restored.
– Periodic checks and replacement (where necessary) of any compression fittings or similar subject to excessive vibrations where material fatigue could occur and lead to resultant failure and thus impinge onto surrounding surfaces.

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