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Sub-Committee on Fire Protection, 56th session, 7 to 11 January 2013

January 11, 2013

SOLAS amendments on inert gas systems for tankers over 8,000 dwt carrying low-flash point cargoes agreed
 
Draft amendments to SOLAS to require the installation of inert gas systems on board new oil and chemical tankers of 8,000 dwt and above, carrying low-flashpoint (below 60°C) cargoes, were agreed by the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection (FP) when it met for its 56th session, for submission to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 92) in June, for approval with a view to subsequent adoption.
 
The draft amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/4.5.5 and II 2/16.3.3 will require an inert gas system to be fitted on new oil and chemical tankers of 8,000 dwt and above, when transporting low-flash point cargoes (cargoes having a flashpoint less than 60°C).  Oil tankers above 20,000 dwt were already required to install such systems but the new regulations will lower the required threshold to 8,000 dwt and above.
 
Related draft amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) were also agreed, resulting in a complete replacement of chapter 15 (Inert gas systems). 
 
The development of the draft amendments follows intensive work in recent years aimed at preventing explosions on oil and chemical tankers transporting low-flashpoint cargoes, following recommendations by an Inter-Industry Working Group (IIWG), which was established to study incidents of fires and explosions on chemical and product tankers.
 
SOLAS amendments on additional means of escape from machinery spaces agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed draft amendments to SOLAS mandating additional means of escape from machinery spaces, for submission to MSC 92, for approval with a view to subsequent adoption.
 
The draft amendments to regulation II-2/13.4 require two means of escape to be provided from the main workshop within a machinery space and from a machinery control room located within a machinery space. At least one of these escape routes shall provide a continuous fire shelter to a safe position outside the machinery space. 
 
All inclined ladders/stairways with open treads in machinery spaces being part of or providing access to escape routes are to be fitted with steel shields attached to their undersides, to provide escaping personnel protection against heat and flame from beneath.
 
SOLAS amendments for ships carrying vehicles using hydrogen and compressed natural gas for their own propulsion as cargo agreed
Draft SOLAS amendments to add new requirements for ships carrying as cargo vehicles with engines fuelled by hydrogen and compressed natural gas were agreed by the Sub-Committee, for submission to MSC 92 for approval and subsequent adoption.
 
The new regulation II-2/20-1 Requirement for vehicle carrier carrying motor vehicles with compressed hydrogen or natural gas for their own propulsion, sets additional requirements for ships with vehicle and ro-ro spaces intended for the carriage of motor vehicles with compressed hydrogen or compressed natural gas in their tanks as fuel.
 
The requirements include, for new ships: electrical equipment and wiring of a certified safe type for use in explosive methane and air mixtures; fans designed to avoid a possibility of ignition of hydrogen and air mixtures; and whenever a vehicle carrier carries as cargo one or more motor vehicles with either compressed hydrogen or compressed natural gas in their tanks as fuel, at least two portable gas detectors shall be provided.
 
Existing vehicle carriers will also be required to comply with the requirement for portable gas detectors from the date of entry into force of the regulation. 
 
The Sub-Committee agreed to further consider a draft MSC circular on Recommendation on safety measures for existing ro-ro cargo ships (vehicle carriers) carrying motor vehicles with compressed hydrogen or natural gas in their tanks for their own propulsion at its next session.
 
Fire resistance of ventilation ducts amendment finalized
The Sub-Committee agreed draft amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/3 and II-2/9.7, relating to the requirements for the fire resistance of ventilation ducts, for submission to MSC 92 for approval with a view to subsequent adoption.
 
The amendments add new definitions for fire damper (“a device installed in a ventilation duct, which under normal conditions remains open allowing flow in the duct, and is closed during a fire, preventing the flow in the duct to restrict the passage of fire”) and smoke damper ( “a device installed in a ventilation duct, which under normal conditions remains open allowing flow in the duct, and is closed during a fire, preventing the flow in the duct to restrict the passage of smoke and hot gases”).
 
Regulation 9.7, introducing new requirements for ventilation ducts, fire dampers and duct penetrations, was re-written completely.

The Sub-Committee also agreed to establish a correspondence group to progress the work on the development of SOLAS amendments and associated guidance on air quality management for ventilation of closed vehicle spaces, closed ro-ro spaces and special category spaces.
 
Interpretations agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed the following interpretations, to be submitted as draft MSC circulars to MSC 92 for approval:
 
• Unified interpretations of the SOLAS chapter II-2 and the FSS and International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures ( FTP Code);

• Unified interpretations of the 2000 High-Speed Craft (HSC) Code, as amended by resolutions MSC.175(79) and MSC.222(82);

• Interpretation to the Revised Guidelines for the approval of equivalent water based fire extinguishing systems for machinery spaces and cargo pump-rooms (MSC/Circ.1165); and

• Unified interpretation of the SOLAS Convention, the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) and the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code).
 
SOLAS amendments on fire protection of on-deck container cargoes agreed
The Sub-Committee, recognizing that the existing means of fire safety for high container stacks may not be fully adequate when the ship carries five or more tiers of containers on or above the weather deck, prepared draft amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/2 and II-2/10 for submission to MSC 92.
 
The draft amendments add a new regulation II-2/10.7.3, to require at least one water mist lance for all new ships designed to carry containers on or above the weather deck, and to require mobile water monitors for new ships designed to carry five or more tiers of containers on or above the weather deck.
 
The regulation defines a water mist lance as consisting of a tube with a piercing nozzle which is capable of penetrating a container wall and producing water mist inside a confined space (container, etc.) when connected to the fire main.
 
Mobile water monitors are water discharge devices of portable or wheeled type, consisting of inlet fitting(s), monitor waterway, swivel fittings, discharge nozzle and a shut-off device.
 
The Sub-Committee also agreed a draft MSC circular on Guidelines for the design, performance, testing and approval of mobile water monitors used for the protection of on deck cargo areas of ships designed and constructed to carry five or more tiers of containers on or above the weather deck, for submission to MSC 92 for approval, in principle, with a view to final approval at MSC 93 in conjunction with the adoption of the associated amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10.
 
Fire protection issues related to fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) discussed
The Sub-Committee reviewed a number of submissions relating to fire safety aspects in relation to  the use of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP)  on ships and established a correspondence group on the development of guidelines for use of FRP within ship structures. The group will review available fire testing results and research and methodologies with regard to FRP composite structures in ships, as well as the current regulations and relevant applications of FRP composite structures.