S2/2007M Fire extinguishing on ship’s car deck and development of accident investigation

The cargo on a ship’s car deck forms an extensive fire load and the open construction makes it possible for the fire to spread without any obstacles. Therefore an early detection of the fire and efficient fire fighting on the car deck are even more essential than elsewhere on the ship. Thus, it was decided to chart and analyse the alarm and the fire fighting efforts in actual car deck fires and see if there are common features and problems among the cases. The second aim was to develop a suitable pattern for the accident investigation, which could enable more comprehensive investigation of fire fighting on car deck. Thus, the work had two aims.

The main method for collecting information was the analysis of the accident investigation reports which dealt with the car deck fires. A SHELL-model, recommended by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a method for the investigation of human factor, was used as a template for systematic approach of the material. The goal was to establish the interaction between human action and different elements, among other things the equipments and environment, in fire fighting with the help of the SHELL-model. The SHELL-model is quite abstract, hence to concretise the interactions inside the model an examination frame was formed, where the adapted IMO’s checklist for the fire investigation was attached to the SHELL-model. With the help of the frame the information from the reports could be divided into usable entities so that a systematic approach was possible. Going through the reports with the help of the model created, was also a test for the use of the model so that the methodology of the accident investigation could be further developed. The research was qualitative likewise the investigation reports.

The facts found to influence the first theme of the research, alarm and fire fighting efforts, were diverse. They covered for example the seat of the fire, the detection and confirmation of the fire, the use of suppression systems and first-hand extinguishing, the small gaps between the cargo units, smoke, the crew’s guidelines and the situation management on the bridge.

Good results were obtained from the other theme, development of the accident investigation model. Based on the assessment, the biggest advantage of the model would be the increased methodicalness. Using the model the investigation would be more comprehensive, unintended omissions of the different investigation sectors would decrease, the deficiencies in fire fighting or constructions could be discovered from less serious casualties. Also the comparison of several fire cases would be easier and the analysis part of the investigation report could be written so, that the interactions in fire extinguishing could be clearer to the reader.

S2/2007M Report (pdf, 2.69 Mt)

Published 3.5.2007