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WSS Warns of Firefighting Compliance

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

March 29, 2016

Ship owners will need to act now to ensure they comply with new firefighting rules brought into force on January 1, 2016 for all new buildings warns WSS.

New amendments to the safety of life at sea convention (SOLAS), which are now in force have laid down extensive ground rules for firefighting on ships designed to carry containers on or above the weather deck and built on or after January 1, 2016.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service’s (WSS) Unitor lance and X-flow water monitor have been specifically designed to meet all the requirements of the new SOLAS rules.

“As container ships have increased in size, so too has the need for effective measures to ensure the safety of the crew and cargo when substantial numbers of containers are carried on deck,” says Andrew Sheriff, Business Manager, Safety, WSS.

“Given the sensitive cargos carried on many container ships, crew members need to be able to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency situation.”

Containership fires have presented many challenges for the industry in recent years, with recent casualties like the MSC Flaminia in 2012 and the 18,000 teu Barzan in 2015 underlining the importance of a swift response in critical circumstances.

SOLAS Regulation II-2/10.7.3 requires at least one water mist lance to be carried on the vessel. In addition, ships designed to carry five or more tiers of containers on or above the weather deck must carry mobile water monitors – the number needed depending on the breadth of the vessel. This regulation is for new vessels delivered in 2016, but WSS also encourages owners to consider the package for existing vessels. One thing to remember is the lance package can easily be utilised with existing systems, however the fire pump sizes for the water monitor will need to be checked.

Under the new rules, monitors have to fulfil a number of requirements, including having a discharge nozzle of the dual-purpose spray or jet type, to be equipped with a coupling for hydrant connection as well as a minimum capacity of 60 m3/h (1000 l/min) and a minimum horizontal throw of 40 metres at 4 bar, when discharging at a horizontal elevation of 30-35 degrees. They must be able to operate both horizontally and vertically, with a range of up to 90 degrees, and be capable of one man or unattended operation. All systems need to be approved by the relevant administration.

Sherriff explains that the Unitor water mist lance is swift to deploy, thereby reducing fire damage. The lance, which has been tested and type approved by classification society DNV-GL, has a purpose selected hose of small diameter and low weight, ensuring ease of use. It is fitted with a 25 metre hose for flexible reach, with separate equipment for penetrating container walls enabling reliable means of wall penetration, short drilling time and, most importantly, less exposure to fire.

The equipment is stored in a small and practical suitcase, ready for use and ease of inspection during fire drills. “Although the water mist lance is specifically designed for use for containers on and above the weather deck, it can also be used in accommodation and deck areas to fight fires without having to enter the confirmed areas where a fire has started.” Sherriff explains the unit is designed not only to dampen the fire through the water spray but also eat up the oxygen in the confirmed area through a clever design feature, which creates steam and also means a faster containment of the fire.

Benefits of WSS’s Unitor X-flow water monitor include its low water requirements that can save on extra installation costs linked to higher water supply demand. The monitor can mitigate fire damage with fast connection to a hydrant as the unit requires only one hose.

The system has also been tested and type approved by DNV-GL.  Weighing less than 23 kg, it is fitted with a dual-purpose spray/jet type nozzle with a nominal capacity of 80m3/h and meets the SOLAS requirements in terms of a throw length of 40 metres and a throw height of 28 metres at 4 bar (discharging at 30-35 degrees) as well as horizontal and vertical operation of up to 90 degrees. The equipment can be operated unattended.

As far as costs are concerned, both systems represent good value for money when taking into consideration the risk factors.

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