NSW Maritime - Ferry fire investigation report prompts safety warning

NSW Maritime
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NSW Maritime Chief Executive Steve Dunn today called upon commercial vessel owners to ensure their safety management system (SMS) is up-to-date and covers all foreseeable risks including fire hazards. The safety warning follows the release of the Ferry Safety Investigation report into the fire on board rocket ferry Jillian on the evening of 28 April 2010.

The Office of Transport Safety Investigations (OTSI) Ferry Safety Investigation found the fire was caused by the radiated heat coming from a crack in an exhaust pipe under the deck, behind an engine room. The report found the vessel’s thermal detectors were incorrectly wired so the fire alarm didn’t activate.

Repairs have been made to the vessel and safety deficiencies on the Rocket Class ferries addressed. In addition, the SMS is currently being revised.

Mr Dunn said it was fortunate no one was seriously injured in the fire but the incident did provide a timely warning about the need for a complete and updated SMS for passenger-carrying commercial vessels.

'It’s important for everyone to take the time to learn from potential tragedies and this incident highlights the importance of safety checks and plans for all those working on commercial vessels,' he said.

'Regular safety drills based on realistic emergency scenarios need to be undertaken and testing of fire detection and alarm systems is a vital part of this.

'As a result of the fire, three employees from the ferry together with one Water Police officer were admitted to hospital for monitoring after suffering smoke inhalation. The ferry suffered extensive fire damage to its aft port (left) side section.

'Fortunately, the majority of the 31 passengers on board had disembarked before the crew noticed a burning smell from the rear deck area.

'Understanding what happened and how it happened can ensure similar incidents are avoided in the future so we need to take time to consider the investigation findings and take action wherever appropriate,' he explained.

www.maritime.nsw.gov.au