A Safety Alert has been issued to warn vessel owners and operators about the risk of fuel spray fire onboard commercial vessels.
Incidents with fuel spray fire occur quite frequently – most recently, an incident involved a 194 GRT offshore supply vessel. A fire was ignited in the engine room as a result of a high pressure fuel leak spraying over and upon the port engine’s turbocharger. The engine room, which was unmanned at the time of the incident, suffered a substantial amount of damage, and the company itself lost revenues as a result of the operational downtime of the vessel.
Fortunately, no one was hurt during the incident, but it did motivate the owner/operator of the vessel to make some fleet-wide changes to his safety management system. He also repositioned the fuel filter assemblies away from the turbochargers on the outboard side of the engines around the fuel pumps.
In response to the incident, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that vessel owners and operators make certain that unmanned machinery spaces are inspected, at a minimum, on a daily basis, if not several times a day.
Individuals undertaking inspections of equipment, systems and components, should do so under good lighting conditions, so that they can examine items carefully.
- Inspect fuel and lubricating systems;
- Check for loose or missing pipe clamps and securing devices;
- Ensure that plastic piping is not close to hot spots;
- Make sure that insulation, blankets, and lagging are maintained and kept tight;
- Examine fuel supply pumps – look for leakages or indications of wear;
- Consult with experts (engine manufacturer representatives) about replacing engines and components, and whether any modifications are necessary in order to lessen the risk of fuel spray fires;
- Reduce your use of non-metallic flexible hoses, particularly around engine areas carrying flammable liquids.