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The Fire Plan- An Essential Document for Every Yacht
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 9:04 PM
Joined: 02/05/2008
Posts: 392

The time is 3:00 a.m. You and the captain are the only people onboard your vessel, which is docked side-to at a marina. You wake suddenly to hear the captain announcing on the intercom “Fire in the engine room!”

As you scramble out of bed, you remember that only you and the captain are onboard.  You think, Who is going to fight this fire? You make contact with the bridge and the captain advises that he has already called 911. The local fire department is on the way.

The captain directs you to close all of the engine room doors, and to stand by on the pier and wait for the fire department to arrive. As you wait on the pier, you grab the fire plan from its holder at the end of the gangway. The fire plan is required to be located in this position for the fire department to use in this type of scenario.  

Do you know where else the fire plan is required to be kept?

The first fire engine arrives and the officer in charge asks, “What’s happening?”  You report, “There’s a fire in the engine room. The cause is unknown. All doors to the engine room are closed. The captain and I are the only people on board.”  You hand the fire fighter the vessel fire plan, and as he opens it he asks, “What is this for?”  

Not all fire departments have extensive training on shipboard fire fighting and a Fire Plan document may be unfamiliar to them.

Referring to the fire plan, you show the fire fighter the location of the engine room. You explain that the engine room is outlined in red, indicating the structural fire protection surrounding the engine room, and that the fire containment of that bulkhead is 60 minutes (Class A or A – 60). The reason the engine room, galley, and a few other locations on the ship are outlined in red is due to the high risk of fire in those locations. Of those high-risk areas, the engine room is the highest risk of all.

Which other areas would have A – 60 protection? What does the compartments outlined in yellow mean?  

The other key information on the Fire Plan includes:
•    Fixed fire suppression system locations and there controls
•    Extinguisher location and type
•    Fire Stations with hose connections
•    Ventilation Damper locations
•    Fuel isolation valves and remote operations of the fuel valves and ventilation dampers
•    Compartment names and access points to those compartments
•    Fire protection of various doors; whether the doors swing in or out, and if it is a left or right handed swing
•    All measurements on the Fire Plan are on a metric scale
The fire plan also is required to be in what two languages?
The fire department and the captain agree on a course of action, which is to discharge the CO2 system for the engine room. The captain directs you to check that the engine room is completely shut down. You confirm that the fuel, power and ventilation systems have been shut down. Once this is complete, the captain orders you to discharge the CO2 system.  The captain then directs you to position a fire fighter to start with boundary cooling above the engine room. The fire fighter rigs the hose to the location where boundary cooling is needed. However, as a well-trained crewmember, you instruct the fire fighter not to start flowing water yet in order to possibly save the interior of the vessel from water damage. You must first open select cabinets or closets to access structural components where boundary cooling will be most effective. The fire plan does not distinguish between structural components and decorative elements or coverings. The fire plan only shows the structural components. Depending on the interior layout, there may be areas or spaces above or below the structural components that may not appear on the fire plan. However, there will be small numbers noted on the plan where these spaces are located. The numbers are noted in millimeters above or below the structural components that the decorative finishes conceal. These areas or spaces are concealed collection points for water, and also for heat, which can travel to other locations and cause secondary fires.

The temperature indicator on the exterior of the engine room is that the fire is extinguished. The captain orders that the engine room not be reentered for a period of at least 24 hours. The fire department may decide to have personnel stand by during this cooling time.

Answers to questions:
Fire Plan locations are at vessel access point/s, on the bridge, and in crew areas — in conspicuous locations.

A-60 protection areas are: emergency escape routes, stairwells and life saving equipment areas
Compartments outlines in yellow are B-30 fire protection areas (with lesser protection).

SOLAS requires fire plans to be in the working language of the vessel plus English and French.

DRILL:  Take the Fire Plan in hand and walk your vessel. Look carefully at what the Fire Plan is showing you and what you see as you walk through. Find the structural components and the related decorative finishes, and where they begin and end. Check the extinguisher placement, the hose stations, the door swings, and all other relevant information and confirm that all is correct on the fire plan.

By Tom Jones, training manager at Resolve Maritime Academy, 1510 S.E. 17 St., Suite 400, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33316, Tel: 877-975-3473, info@,

Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 1:28 PM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1024

Jeez... when you smell smoke first UNPLUG THE SHOREPOWER, the likely source of the fire and a possible electrocution hazard to the trusty firefighters , then remember that the firefighters must have access to the boat to fight the fire so ............. chain the your smoking rig to the dock......... so that when the fire melts the docklines your flamer doesn't drift out of firefighting range and terrorize the whole neighborhood. Takes a long time to put out a flaming stinker so after briefing the fire crew of the vessels status, jump into the crew car and buy a couple jumbo boxes of donuts and a few gallons of coffee. Remember to Youtube video the whole scene
Captain Andy
Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 9:25 PM
Joined: 17/09/2008
Posts: 93

I think you have missed some serious points here: firstly, there was no consideration about inflammable stores or products on your vessel such as compressed gas storage areas (diving bottles), or the paint locker, or the deck petrol storage! Firefighters will need to know about these hazards for example. Secondly, If you have just secured the engine room and haven't lined up the fire fighting system, or more importantly the bilge system. Do you think that the fire brigade will want to throw water into a vessel seriously effecting it's stability or possibly even leading into a capsize situation? Thirdly, no account of the vessel's geographic location has been taken into account. Some countries will not enter such a vessel to conduct SAR operations if all personnel are accounted for. Instead they will conduct boundary cooling from the quay, so hopefully, containing the fire. On this point also, firefighters have the right not to enter the fire if they believe they will be endangered ..... particularly if they have had very little training or experience of fighting fires on vessels - which is very specialised!! Lastly, it is interesting to note that the crew just shut the doors instead of making an attempt to fight the fire with first aid appliances ..... I wonder what the insurance companies would say about express and implied warranties in this case?? LOL
Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 7:15 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1024

Boats at the dock Andy. This means all the crew are in the bar. The captain, if he is onboard and sober, will simply be holding his instruction book and shouting FIRE STATIONS into a empty boat. Who will fight the fire ? If the watch crew has their wits about them its Best to close doors, blow the fire extinguishers and get the hell out. No need to be a Hero. De power the boat when you hit the dock ,then investigate ways to keep your neighbors from burning up. It took 30 minutes for firefighters to begin pumping foam and water on the last flamer I witnessed. The fire was hot and air was whistling thru vents Calling all the bars to alert other crew that their rigs are going to toast might be good. . Hopefully you grabbed your passport , documents and a wedge of cash before hitting the dock. That cash will be handy for "Tipping " the firefighters afterwards. All yachties know that tips are necessary.. 10 or 20 percent is industry standard. .
Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2012 5:06 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

If there is a fire in the engine room of a crewed yacht, why isn't someone hitting the the trigger on the installed system after shutting the doors (that is assuming your vessel is so far behind the safety 8 ball that you leave engine room doors open when the engine room is unoccupied)?

If a large yacht is involved at the dock, drop your anchors a down near the water and get off the boat if the onboard system doesn't work and unplug it. If you have an emergency Diesel bilge pump, turn it on, line it out and leave it run to help with stability once they start opening up firehoses. The anchors will give someone something to get a hawser on and tow it the hell out of there before it burns everything else around it if they decide to do that.

Minimise Fire Risks
Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2012 5:44 PM
Joined: 30/06/2012
Posts: 35

Very interesting. Would love to discuss anything to do with minimising Fire Risks on board.
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