Within the last year, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has issued several port state control (PSC) detentions due to inoperative water mist systems on vessels trading to the US.
In nearly every case, the water supply valve was found to be in the closed position during the PSC examination, essentially making the water mist system “not readily available for immediate use.” In many of the cases, the Chief Engineer was not aware that the water supply valve was in the closed position and was left in the closed position during maintenance.
Inspection and verification of water mist systems
It is important that all water mist systems are fully checked and verified as being in satisfactory working order at all times.
It is highly advisable to make frequent rounds and inspections of the water mist system, paying close attention to valve alignment, as well as ensuring that there is adequate labelling so that existing and new crew members will know that critical fixed firefighting equipment must be made available for immediate use.
Senior ship’s personnel, designated persons ashore (DPAs), and ship superintendents are strongly advised to ensure measures are in place to ensure that the water mist system is in a fully operational and automatic mode. These measures should be included in the vessel’s Safety Management System.
Attention is specifically drawn to SOLAS II-2/14 which covers Operational Readiness and Maintenance. Paragraph 2.1.2 states that: “Fire-fighting systems and appliances shall be kept in good working order and readily available for immediate use.“