A new Coast Guard safety alert is warning fishermen to make sure noncombustible materials are used in engine room and machinery space boundaries with dry exhaust systems.

A recent marine casualty resulting in an engine room fire onboard a commercial fishing vessel identified significant hazards associated with main engine dry exhaust systems coming in direct contact with combustible materials, such as general-purpose resin on a wood fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) vessel.

Some commercial fishing vessels are required to insulate combustibles from heated surfaces in accordance with 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 28.380(b), and ABYC P-1 requires fittings in contact with uncooled exhaust carriers to be noncombustible.

However, there are currently no specific requirements for commercial fishing vessels to use fire-retardant resin or to install noncombustible panels around machinery compartment boundaries.

When constructed of wood or general-purpose resin, a lack of noncombustible materials can lead to the main engine exhaust heating a wood/FRP deck, which can ultimately lead to a fire. In the recent vessel casualty, the main engine’s dry exhaust caused the vessel’s wooden deck to ignite and caused $200,000 in damage.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that commercial fishing vessel owners and operators:

  • Ensure that dry exhaust piping passing through combustible bulkheads or partitions are insulated/shielded from combustible materials.
  • Install noncombustible panels on existing vessels with general purpose resin.
  • For new construction vessels, install noncombustible panels or fire-retardant resin around machinery compartment boundaries constructed of wood/FRP.

The safety alert was developed by the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay Investigations Division and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to [email protected].


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