Fires and explosions are the third greatest cause of ship and cargo loss. Fires and explosions have caused about 118 ships, as well as billions of dollars worth of cargo, to be lost and destroyed at sea. Employees are most often the cause of the fires and not equipment failure, as some may believe. Not even the most well-trained employees are flawless. You need to know how to prevent the fire from growing so you can protect yourself at sea.
To prevent an incident, familiarize yourself with the most common hazards that lead to maritime fires. The workplace has many chemicals, machines, tools, gases, and other dangerous materials that lead to fires. These can become hazardous if stored incorrectly. Be sure to check these materials, especially those that have the greatest likelihood of combusting.
If the elements are available, a fire can start seemingly out of nowhere. Keep an eye out for the warning signs such as exposed wire, rags near a heat source, hot work, and so on. A competent person must be designated by written company policies and sufficiently trained to supervise hot work. Make sure you know where the fire equipment is and have a general idea of how to use them.
You may not be able to see a fire hazard until it has already ignited. In this case, it is important to remain calm. First learn where the fire originated, inform the captain, do your best to restrict the fire, then extinguish it. Fire extinguishers are among the fire equipment you should have onboard and they should be used to put the fire out.
Keep an eye on the signs in your area, especially the exits. The time may come where the fire grows out of control. You will need to abandon the ship if this occurs.
Remember that safety is everyone’s responsibility. Don’t rely on others to protect you from hazards or notice dangerous situations. Remain alert and remember the tips you have learned to avoid and prevent fires. It could be your actions that save lives. Good luck and stay safe!