Liquefied Gas Carrier

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Fire fighting procedure for solid, liquid or electrical fire on board liquefied gas carriers

If any of the ship's personnel should discover a fire, they should immediately activate the nearest fire alarm switch and then contact the bridge or engine room, to report the location of the fire and should inform anyone met on the way. All other personnel must report to their muster points on hearing the alarm. The engine room should be advised as soon as possible of the extent and location of the fire so that all necessary services can be made ready.

If the fire is small, the person discovering it should attempt to extinguish it by the nearest suitable available means, after raising the alarm. Should it not be possible to retard the fire's progress, the discoverer should report to their muster station.

It must be emphasised that although prompt action of this kind may be successful in extinguishing a fire before it takes hold or spreads, valuable time can be wasted by one person trying to extinguish an established fire, instead of raising the alarm and alerting other personnel to the location and extent of the fire. Also, if a space is filling with smoke and fumes, the person attempting to fight a fire may become a casualty. In this situation, the best thing the person discovering a fire can do is get out quickly and, if necessary, escape should be made by crawling on hands and knees as the air close to deck level is likely to be relatively smoke free.

The four stages in successful fire fighting are:

Find - Even if a fire is only suspected, it is essential that the alarm is raised immediately so that the maximum fire fighting potential of the ship can be mustered immediately.

Inform – This includes prompt reporting of the location of the fire and immediate sounding of the alarm, or confirmation of an automatically generated alarm, and notifying the engine room and/or bridge of the location. Fire alarm switches are located at strategic points around the ship.

Restrict - The most effective initial action may be to reduce the flow of air to the fire by closing doors and other openings, followed by prompt application of the appropriate extinguishing medium. Having established the location of the fire, the officer in charge of fire fighting operations must quickly decide:

  1. Whether any person is at risk.
  2. What is burning?
  3. The extent of the fire.
  4. What combustibles are in the immediate vicinity and the surrounding spaces adjacent to the area on fire?
  5. What vents or other channels are present that would assist the spreading of the fire.
  6. What method or methods of extinguishing are appropriate?
  7. What is the best technique to adopt to prevent the fire spreading and to extinguish it.

Extinguish - Ensuring that no re-ignition occurs.

Liquid fires

Liquid fires, particularly those involving low flash point petroleum products, present the most serious fire fighting problem on board ships. Of the three factors that are necessary to produce a fire, fuel, heat and air, the removal of fuel is rarely practicable, except in the case of a burst cargo hose, when the closing of the manifold valve or stopping of the pumps will cut off the supply of fuel or a spray from a fractured pipe, or when the stopping of the fuel pump or operation of quick closing valves will cut off the supply of fuel.

The removal of heat from a low flash point oil fire, once established, is not practical because such oils give off flammable vapours at normal or sub-normal temperatures. It is therefore necessary to remove the third factor, air, by means of smothering agents such as foam or CO2, together with the sealing of the compartment. These methods must be adopted immediately with a low flash point oil fire.

High flash point oils, such as fuel oil, diesel oil and lubricating oil, should be attacked in one of two ways, depending on whether the fire is well established or not. In its early stages, a fire may be effectively dealt with by cooling the oil surface with advancing sweeps of fog or spray across its whole width. This technique is known as progressive cooling. It is highly effective because in the early stages the fire is only fed from the vapours of a thin hot layer of oil. The longer the fire burns, the deeper this heated layer of oil becomes and, if the fire cannot be quickly extinguished, or if it has been burning for a long time, smothering as for a low flash point oil must be resorted to.

Solid fires

Solid fires are usually associated with woodwork, bedding, clothes, stores, etc. and may occur anywhere on board, but particularly in the accommodation and storerooms. The combustibles of this class of fire leave embers and therefore CO2 or dry chemical should not be used except as a first-aid measure. Water, especially in a jet, is the most effective agent for this class of fire and should always be used. Inside the accommodation, first-aid hose reels, if fitted, are speedy and effective fire fighting appliances as they are always ready for immediate use and are also easy to handle. Foam, because of its water content, may be used in the later stages so as to avoid the possibility of re-ignition when air regains contact with the embers.

The greatest hazard presented by this class of fire is the possibility of it spreading to the ship's cargo, or, if in ballast and not gas free, to any explosive vapours in the tanks. Speed in the application of water is essential and care should be taken to protect the surrounding areas by the cooling effect of water. Ideally, the jet-spray nozzles should be used so that jet or spray may be applied as circumstances require. Where two jets are available, one may be set for jet to attack the fire and the other for spray to protect fire-fighters. A close approach to the seat of a fire is often possible with these techniques.

It is important that combustible material involved in a fire is pulled apart to make certain that the extinguishing agent can penetrate all parts of the burning materials and that they are thoroughly wetted down, even if the fire is considered to be extinguished. When a fire involving solid materials is apparently extinguished, a constant watch must be kept with appliances available for instant use, to prevent any re-ignition. The length of such a watch will vary greatly, depending on circumstances.

It is important to bear in mind the toxicity of fumes/smoke given off when certain products used in accommodation and electrical fittings burn, and it is therefore necessary to protect fire-fighters by the use of breathing apparatus.

The following table gives examples of the toxic products given off by the combustion of materials commonly found in ship’s accommodation.

Burning material & Toxic Products
Electrical fires

Electrical fires may be caused by electrical short circuits, overheating, or the spreading of a solid or liquid fire. The circuits must be isolated and CO2 or dry chemical extinguishers should be used, both of which are non-conductors of electricity. If neither of these extinguishers are available, water fog or foam may be used in that order of preference, but they should be used only as a last resort and with extreme caution.

Should a fire occur on the main switchboard, every effort should be made to extinguish it with the non-conducting agents and, only when these efforts have failed, should recourse be made to the use of foam appliances and water fog. This will, however necessitate the complete isolation of the switchboard, which in itself will reduce the choice of fire fighting media available.

Below is more guideline on Fire hazards, sources of ignition and necessary precautions

Fire hazards and precautions - Atmosphere Control For Gas Carrier

Fire hazards and precautions - Sources of Ignition in Liquefied Gas Carrier

Matters that require attention to onboard work

Fire hazards and precautions against statistic electricity in liquefied gas carrier

Related Information:

  1. Guideline to tackle fire on board LNG ship

  2. Fire fighting plan for liquefied gas carrier

  3. Design characteristics of liquefied gas carriers

  4. Liquefied gas carrier -applicable regulations

  5. Vapour Characteristics of liquefied gases

  6. Low temperature effects of Liquefied gases

  7. Reactivity of liquefied gas cargo and safety guideline

Liquefied gases - Health hazards

How LNG is transported ? Is it safe ?

Liquefied gases - How to remove all cargo liquid from tanks

Cargo Information - physical and chemical properties necessary for the safe containment of the cargo

Liquefied gas carrier -monitoring cargo pressure

Liquefied gases - Health hazards

Safety equipment

Liquefied gas cargo reactivity

Liquefied gas cargo corrosion

Liquefied gas cargo vapour characteristics

Liquefied gas cargo - low temperature effects

Liquefied gas carrier -monitoring cargo pressure

External links :

  1. International maritime organization

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