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Fire Research Notes


Clarke, S.H., 1953. FIRES IN SHIPS IN PORT. Fire Research Notes 75


After several fires in large ships in recent years, the comments of the Joint Fire Research Organization have been sought from various quarters. It seemed appropriate to review some of the major problems of ship fires, and to describe them in a form suitable for further discussion. No mention is made of what may be called accepted good-practice in ship fire protection; the paper deals mainly with what may be expected in future trends. It is noted that all the large fires in recent years have occurred in ships in port. The recommendations of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea are intended primarily to apply under sea-going conditions. They are not necessarily adequate when a ship is in port. The following are among the suggestions made: I) Careful attention should be given to the Report of the Working Party of the Ministry of Transport which recommends measures to ensure early detection and attack, with a well-defined chain of authority. II) Wherever possible automatic alarm systems, or preferably sprinklers, should be installed. III)Any steps that can be taken towards ensuring the integrity of fire compartments, which should be as small as possible, should be taken; mere openings in fire division walls are necessary for normal operation of the ship, the utmost care should be taken to ensure that they are closed when not actually in use. IV) It seems probable that water will remain the principle fire fighting medium. The chief directions in which improvements may be expected are in the greater use of water sprays, and possibly in their indirect application. V) The permanent installation of deep-lift pumps to prevent dangerous accumulations of water should be considered. VI) It may be possible in future ship design to take into account the desirability of controlled ventilation in the event of fire.

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