Large financial losses and a considerable death toll are nowadays related to on-board shipping accidents. Fire hazards originating from the vessel itself are among the major causes of these accidents. The search for procedures that allow scientific awareness and analysis of fire risks generally focuses on the criteria obtained in previous investigations. However, many investigation practices do not cover the whole range of intervening parameters and variables, in which the human factor acquires greater specific weight in relation to accidents involving fire. Therefore, it is necessary to identify and quantify aspects related to fire prevention and fighting not addressed by the regulations, as well as variables related to safety and human factors, which constitute an 'extra risk factor' as generators of an accident.
PHOENIX focused on the application of a universal tool for the quantification of fire risks in order to identify and quantify all parameters and variables potentially contributing to the outbreak of fire on vessels. The main objectives were to:
- determine the original ship condition and its relationship with the risk of a fire outbreak;
- design an analytical method to determine the level of fire risk on-board;
- specify the contents of accident reports according to ship types, including new variables related to fire;
- develop a computer program that helps generate and present collected data as a basis for risk assessment focused on fire hazards.
Levels of fire risk have been modelled through quantifying the physical parameters related to the fire phenomena. Particular attention was given to conditions like size and age of ship, compliance with existing construction rules and maintenance status. PHOENIX also studied the human factors derived from the characteristics of the crew as well as organisation criteria related to safety in fire prevention and the situation generated by the type of transport. The project developed fire propagation simulator models that can be applied to known parameters and then provide information related to, for example, how long it will take for a fire breaking out in one space to affect the adjacent spaces.
PHOENIX has produced:
- A model database incorporating information on 955 vessels involved in fire-related incidents between 1990 and 1995; the database structure was built on twelve variables, ranging from general data about the ship or the registered flag, to parameters related to the outbreak of fire and the subsequent measures.
- Two computer models for analysis and prevention of fire on-board ships; FIRST (Fire Simulation Tool) has been developed to simulate fire propagation for a typical ship layout and proved capable of doing so for free fire propagation.
- Software-based checklists for ship inspectors that allow the analysis of implemented safety measures for fire prevention; the tool helps to assess pre-accident as well as post-accident conditions on the vessel.
- A case study on fire propagation in the form of a computer simulation for complex systems that included a typical compartment setup with outfitting, furniture and division bulkheads; the outputs are typical fire-related parameters like temperature, thermal energy and smoke rate.
Within the scope of the general objective of improving maritime safety, the project provides a valuable contribution to the basis for developing a common European database on fire related ship accidents. Thus, it contributes to establishing a comprehensive European framework for maritime casualty investigation and safety assessment. Further recommendations include setting up a framework for RTD on specific methods for standardised fire risk evaluation and improved training procedures for fire fighting.
The results from the project contribute to the provision of assessment methods for fire risk analysis, to be used in impact evaluation of policy options and decisions on fire risks.