Carbon dioxide is said to be a good friend but a bad enemy, because it serves a very useful purpose but it can be dangerous if it isn’t utilised properly. Most ocean-going vessels have CO2 fire extinguishers installed, because these can be used to fight a number of different types of fire on board.
A CO2 extinguisher offers a range of benefits to the maritime industry, in part because of the versatility of its utilisations. CO2 extinguishers are used against fires which feature:
- Electrical wiring
Safety checks are of paramount importance
While having several of these installed is vital, it’s equally important for owners and operators to arrange regular replacement of each CO2 hose. These are generally very strong and robust, but they can degrade, and when that happens, the consequences can be extremely serious.
There are IMO regulations in regard to the quality of every CO2 hose on board a vessel, and owners need to be aware of the requirements. A leak in a hose can lead to unsafe levels of carbon dioxide building up, and when this is in a constricted area a potentially fatal build-up can occur.
Why vessel owners are happy to go for the CO2 option
It goes without saying that there are a number of potentially flammable materials on board ships and offshore installations, and it’s therefore crucial for owners and operators to be prepared for every eventuality. A variety of fire extinguishers need to be in place, with many of them containing CO2.
Carbon dioxide is effective in dealing with fires, and the quick, easy distribution from the extinguisher can make a big difference to the success of the emergency operation. And unlike powder or foam extinguishers, the clear-up afterwards is nowhere near as time-consuming.
Always keep a close eye on every CO2 hose
The IMO regulation MSC.1/Circ.1318 states quite clearly that CO2 hoses need to be replaced at least every ten years, highlighting the importance of these crucial on-board assets. Every owner and operator has a legal duty to ensure there is a provision for safe, reliable fire extinquishers at all times.
The presence of CO2 extinguishers on board vessels will bring a degree of confidence to crew members, but checking every CO2 hose on a regular basis is an absolute must. Carbon dioxide is ever-present in our atmosphere, but it’s always at safe levels.
If a leak occurs in a CO2 hose, the levels soon become extremely unsafe. If carbon dioxide is accidentally released in a small space, the repercussions can become very serious very quickly. For this reason, reliable and regular checks have to become part of a vessel’s regular safety inspection.