Condemned material should be discarded, not used for demonstration purposes. The Nautical Institute gives this warning in its latest Mars Report in which a condemned fire extinguisher caused a fatal accident.
The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:
A handheld (cartridge-type) dry chemical powder fire extinguisher was condemned during an annual third-party inspection due to corrosion issues. It was subsequently discharged, ostensibly for demonstration purposes.
When the internal carbon dioxide cartridge was activated to pressurise the fire extinguisher,
ruptured at the base. The person activating the extinguisher was struck in the head by pieces of flying metal which proved to be fatal.
Advice from The Nautical Institute
- Condemned material should be discarded, not used for demonstration purposes.
- Cartridge-type fire extinguishers that utilise a cartridge to charge the main fire extinguisher cylinder shall be handled with care. The fire extinguisher should be placed on the deck at arm’s length from the body. Point the top of the extinguisher away from the body while holding the handle and hose in one hand. Trigger the carbon dioxide charging cylinder with the other hand. Do not energise these types of fire extinguishers near the body
- Consider using stored pressure type fire extinguishers as opposed to the cartridge type.
This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202307, that are part of Report Number 364. A selection of this Mars Report was also published in SWZ|Maritime’s March 2023 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published (in full) on SWZ|Maritime’s website.
More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.