Electronic Devices & Fire At Sea

There have been a number of recent tragic cases where lives have been lost following fires on liveaboard vessels. The two most recent examples took place in Egypt and California where a total of 34 people were killed.

Although investigations into these incidents have not been completed there is speculation that the causes may have been electrical fires due to either overloading the power supply and/or lithium batteries being charged. As reported in the LA Times, the US Coast Guard has recommended that commercial boat operators nationwide review safety measures, make sure safety equipment is operational and reduce potential hazards from lithium batteries, power strips and extension cords.

The International Maritime Contractors Association (IMCA) has also highlighted the Fire Hazard posed by personal electronic devices. It recommends that:

  • Electronic devices are unplugged when unattended or not in use
  • Electronic devices and associated cords are inspected before use
  • Flammable or combustible materials are not stored on or under electronic devices
  • Checks are conducted to ensure the voltage and frequency of an electrical device is compatible with the vessel electrical system

When JSAT diving is taking place from commercial vessels, such as liveaboards, the Diving Officer is responsible for the safety of all those involved in the Diving Project. As part of this they should ensure that fire safety measures on board the vessels are adequate and that the IMCA recommendations are followed.


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