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Nash, P. and Bigmore, R.H., 1960. THERMAL CONDITIONS IN SHIPS' LIFEBOATS ENVELOPED IN FIRE. Fire Research Notes 444


The problem of escape from burning tankers was paramount during the Second World War and an examination of the problem by Rawlins (1) shows that in 17 typical instances, involving 918 crew members, 355 men lost their lives. Of these, some 55 per cent died of burns. In the ships carrying refined spirit about 60 per cent of the crews perished, 65 per cent of the deaths being due to burns. The deaths occurred not only aboard the ships but were also due to ships' lifeboats, or floating survivors, having the pass through seas covered with burning oil. In March 1959 the Tanker Lifeboat Working Party of the Ministry of Transport decided to set up a Test Panel to investigate experimentally the problem of getting tanker crews in their lifeboats safely through the burning oil around a ship. The Working Party considered that, for lifeboats having a speed of 3 - 6 knots, a maximum period of 5 minutes complete envelopment in flame should be regarded as an operational standard to be achieved.

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