A fire accident on a ferry has uncovered several oversights on how the blaze was tackled, an investigation has found.
The 30,551-tonne cross-channel Dieppe Seaways passenger vessel caught alight as it neared Dover Port.
Ten people suffered burns, including six Kent firefighters and half a dozen crew members during May 1, 2014. Three of these were serious. But none of the ship’s 315 passengers were hurt.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) investigated the blaze, which began in the port thermal oil heater’s furnace on the French ferry.
The investigators say that crew attempted to tackle the fire using their knowledge from a comparable alert aboard the same ship 5 years earlier. But circumstances were different this time round.
The blaze caused the ferry’s burner unit to open, allowing the flames to spread outside of the furnace. The MAIB says that crew did not acknowledge this fact.
The investigators also reported a lack of joined-up working between the vessel’s crew and the Kent firefighters.
Ferry fireball resulted in sea accident
The MAIB pinned the sea accident down to a fireball, which required the compartment to be shut down.
It says this was caused by a back-draft as a result of attempts to gain access into the ferry boiler room.
The report went on to say fire-fighting strategies were “compromised” by the absence of a thorough command review including the ship’s most important employees.
It also pointed to a lack of awareness as to who should take charge between the ferry’s crew and firefighting squads.
Three different staff effectively assumed leadership of the door-opening actions. Yet neither side formally accepted responsibility, the report continued.
More training to deal with fire injuries?
The review suggests that Kent firefighting crews undergo more training especially tailored to on-board blazes in order to try and help prevent further fire injuries in the future.
The investigators pinpointed the cause of the fire in their report. They say a fissure in the ferry’s thermal oil heater coil enabled thermal oil to get into the furnace.
This led to the blaze and the port boiler room’s mechanisms were damaged throughout.