Date (Y-M-D): 1983-08-09
Subject: Inadvertent Release of the Complete Co System by a Crew Member - No Casualty
On the 25th April 1983, the fixed CO2 fire extinguishing system of a Canadian registered cargo vessel was accidentally operated and all seventy-one cylinders released. In this case access to the CO2 room is through a door in the engine room, the CO2 room is also fitted with an escape hatch giving access to the crew deck port-side alleyway.
Because the CO2 room has a direct access from the engine room, it became a store room and spare parts space. Beam supports were erected in the middle of the room and engine lifting gear, chain blocks, slings and the like were hung there. Engine spare parts and boxes of rags were also stored in the space.
On the afternoon of 25th April, one of the ship's oilers stacked a box of rags over the cylinders and in doing so, accidentally operated the two pilot cylinders. These two cylinders pressurize a cylinder/piston trigger which, in turn, pulls the wire releasing all the other cylinders.
It must be pointed out that whilst all the cylinders were released, no alarm was sounded as this is energized only by opening the control cabinet door or the master release valve. Neither of these two operations were initiated because the box of rags was thrown on top of the pilot cylinders downstream of the protective devices.
Fortunately the engine room was not flooded with gas and nobody overcome since the master valve directing the gas to the diffusers was not opened. Nevertheless, it was reported that there was leakage from the safety valves and the CO2 room had to be evacuated. To purge the system the engine room had to be vacated and all the cylinders emptied through the piping and diffusers, finally the system was serviced and recharged before the vessel left port.
To avoid a repetition of this mishap, the CO2 room was cleared of all tools, spare parts, stores, etc.
The foregoing highlights the importance of good housekeeping and that spaces allocated for emergency protective systems should remain dedicated to those services at all times.
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