In October 2012, the MCA issued Marine Guidance Notice 453 (MGN 453) – a protocol to approve service providers wishing to apply textile fire-retardant treatments.
The MCA wanted assurances that the fire retardant treatment process provided equivalence to inherently fire retardant materials used aboard vessels certified under the MCA Large Commercial Yacht Code (LY3), and the products used were tested to comply with the IMO Fire Test Procedures Code (FTP Code 2010).
MGN 453 applies to commercial yachts greater than 24 metres in length, under 500 tonnes and carrying up to 12 passengers. However, it does not exclude yachts over 500 tonnes that do not have an identifiable fire detection system.
The protocol encompasses the treatment of floor coverings, suspended textile materials, upholstery materials and bedding components. The MCA is currently consulting with the industry to consider changes and new proposals will shortly be issued in MGN 580.
Terry Pooley, director of Yacht Protect Services Limited, a leading provider of certified fire-retardant treatments, said, “At this stage, it is not certain that all eligible ships follow the code.
“It is difficult to quantify the exact numbers which fall into the category, but it would appear from the available information that only approximately 200 to 250 are being treated annually. Therefore, for each two-year period, which is the maximum duration of the certificate, service providers are only covering around 50% of the charter market.”
He added, “Several problems have arisen over the ‘vagaries’ of the standards and equivalences, in that not all surveyors and captains insist on all required items being treated on board.”