Encounters At Sea
Certificate of Merit
REACTIONS TO A FIRE EMERGENCY
11 Jul 05
This happened aboard a bulker at Kobe in the year 1974, when I was 2nd Engineer.
The FW cupro-nickel pipe lime of the FW cooler cracked and had to be welded, along with other pipes, just above the main Engine maneuvering platform. The bilge or the tank top was covered with oily residue, as the oily bilge separator was in operative. In the meantime the bunker also arrived as we were anchored at the harbour. It was around 9am. The Chief Engineer and myself went for breakfast as we were up since 02.00hrs. The Workshop was in attendance.
The 3rd Engineer, 4th Engineer and the two 5th Engineers including the oilman, foremen and serang were in the engine room. The 3rd Engineer was made responsible as the W/shop was in attendance and carrying out welding in the engine room. All precautions were exercised.
Around 09.45hrs when I was on my way back to ER, the serang came running up the stairs shouting there was a fire in the ER. The C/E followed me. We saw that the fire had erupted just where the F.W. pipe was being welded and was spreading.
The serang along with myself and C/EO at the heel quickly brought in the portable extinguisher and the W.shop people also got hold of the foam Extinguisher on the same deck and rushed down to fight the fire, and quickly extinguished the same.
The following was noted: In spite of two 5th Engineers and the 3rd Engineer working on the same platform none took the initiative to fight the fire. one of the 5th Engineers was in state of shock, while of the other 5th Engineer and 3rd Engineer, one ran away from the site, seeking help from the Firemen, who also were frightened.
The 4th Engineer shut down the bunkering operation immediately and came to help. The 5th Engineer in the state of shock had to be slapped repeatedly to bring him to his senses.
The deck personnel had also come when the fire alarm was sounded. The fire alarm was sounded when self came into the E.R. But the deck personnel reached the fire spot when we had extinguished the fire.
The delay in the response was attributed to the lift being stuck in the ER. Nobody took the alternate passage via the staircase to come to the ER.
On review it was also noted that the 3rd Engineer, who was deputed to look after the repair, left it to the W.shop persons to do the needful, and was working on the cylinder head platform, where the fire took place from the sparks from the welding igniting the oily bilges.