A number of deficiencies relating to fire-fighting equipment identified during PSC inspections has prompted the US Coast Guard to issue its first Safety Alert of the year.
Deficiencies related to firefighting safety and appliances continue to be the leading cause of detentions in the San Francisco area. Moreover, during the fourth quarter of 2018, there was an increase in deficiencies that related to missing or unserviceable fireman’s outfits. A fireman’s outfit is essential to adequately protect the crew members from heat, smoke, and steam and allows them to attack the root of the fire effectively.
The US Code of Federal Regulations and SOLAS both require firefighting outfits to be aboard certain commercial fishing, cargo, passenger, and tank vessels. The minimum number of firefighting outfits required on board can range from two to four sets depending on the tonnage and required equipment may vary depending on service/type of vessel. They should be stowed in widely separate locations.
For US-flagged vessels, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established a standard on firefighting outfits. NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensemble for Structural Fire Fighting provides guidance on minimum requirements for design, manufacturing and certification of protective ensembles, to include coats, trousers, coveralls, helmets, gloves, footwear and interfacing components. For foreign flagged vessels, SOLAS regulations Chapter II Regulation 17 and the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) established standards for firefighting outfits.
The USCG strongly recommends that vessel owners, operators and other responsible parties take the following measures:
- Inspect your firefighting outfits for functionality and fit.
- Repair or replace equipment when worn or expired.
- Practice donning the firefighting outfit and conduct realistic drills utilizing the required safety equipment to ensure the crew is familiar and ready to use in an emergency.
- Remedy deficiencies in accordance with their SMS before the ship enters port and report any unresolved issues on their advance notice of arrival