Balcony Bulkheads

Pompeyfan
28th April 2006, 19:15
The local BBC News has just said that Balcony Bulheads on cruise ships could be made of fire resistant material in the future. This follows the fire on Star Princess. The report actually said Balcony Walls. This is just one example how bad the misuse of nautical language has become shoreside. The report went onto say that cruise companies could be faced with huge bills to comply with new regulations. So watch this space?!. David

Wild Rover
28th April 2006, 19:24
I suppose the surprising thing is that these bulkheads were not made from fire resistant material in the first place. Its a shame it takes a bad fire to concentrate their minds.

Pompeyfan
28th April 2006, 19:58
That was the story of the bulk of my working life Wild Rover. The amount of deaths I dealt with as a result of accidents at sea or on land was massive. Almost all these accidents were avoidable, and foreseen by many experts in their field of expertise. But as always, their fears and safety reccomendations fell on deaf ears. It seems basic a human failure by those in power only to act when a person dies. David.

gdynia
28th April 2006, 22:12
David
My work over the last couple of years has mainly involved clean ups on salvage operations. Its amazing to sea how fire can spread so quickly.The Barge I was on this January which had two explosions on in Egypt(Red Sea) was totally gutted in the accomodation within 2 minutes.The Bulkheads and Deck Heads were supposedly fire resistant. If you saw the damage you would soon know it was not the case. My present project is a Gas Platform where over 6 ton of Liquid Gas ignited in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately we are not allowed to post photographs but to see the devistation is unbeliavable. Fortunately it was a meal break so no one was hurt when it ignited.Companies are telling you one thing then doing something else even though the cost of a barrel of oil is high PROFIT is the name of the game. Things will never change no matter how much pressure is put on Ive seen it to many times. The famous saying is There is No Price On Safety - thats a joke believe you me.

Frank P
28th April 2006, 23:05
It has been mentioned on the site, that one of the main selling points on these new large ships, are the many balconies that there are onboard, it would be ironic if the balconies became their downfall. Safety must come first.

Frank

Keltic Star
29th April 2006, 02:39
I also wonder how many of the pasengers reported as missing from cruise ships in recent years actually dissapear from the cabin balconies where a deck safety watch would not be aware of incidents, accidental or otherwise.

Pompeyfan
29th April 2006, 07:48
I can well believe the damage Gydnia having been involved in deaths by fire which took hold in seconds. A fire resistant sofa one chap was sitting on was burnt to a cinder, so I agree with everything you say. But they have to be seen to be doing something, and companies as you say tell us one thing and do something else possibly putting up fares telling us it is to increase our safety, although they have to be careful not to price themselves out of the market when making enforced changes. So it will be interesting to see what happens, if anything?!. David

allanc
1st May 2006, 13:12
As a retired (land) architect I am surprised that the accumulated wisdom of land based building regulations relating to fire ratings of building materials plus the concept of alternative means of escape have not apparently filtered through to the maritime area. Perhaps they have, but it doesn't seem so from the foregoing postings.

For various reasons I am unlikely to set foot on a modern cruise ship, especially one wearing a 'flag of convenience', but seems remarkable that the knowledge that has been around for decades has not been applied to passenger ships. I would be interested to hear informed comment on these matters,
Regards to all,
Allan Collier.

Wild Rover
1st May 2006, 13:58
allanc, as far as alternative means of escape is concerned I think they had most things covered. In may cabin at sea there was usually a panel in the cabin door which could be kicked out and crawled through plus a dogged down port that in my younger days I could have squeazed out of. Once out of the cabin I had a choice of two doors leading to the deck or I could drop down a deck to two more doors or for that matter up to any one of three decks ending on the monkey Island. Once on deck I could go forward or aft to escape say a fire or as a last resort take to a lifeboat or raft and exit the ship alltogether. Onboard we had various ways of dealing with a fire, water, foam, fire blankets and chemicals and unlike people in say a block of flats most people onboard were trained to use the equipment. On many ships the cabins were built with non combustable materials although a balance had to be drawn to allow a little comfort. Short of a helicopter and pilot on deck I am not sure what else could be done. As for the Bulkhead, Wall thing I think people should use whatever language they are comfortable with, I was on many a ship were the Captain and Chief had a suit, it was called a cabin but once inside they had a dayroom a bedroom and sometimes an office.

fred henderson
1st May 2006, 18:18
I think we need to establish a sense of proportion here. The balcony bulkheads on Star Princess were made from polycarbonate sheet. It has now been established that these are combustible. As the balconies are outside the structure of the ship, the bulkhead material was not covered by the safety regulations. This situation is now being addressed and ship owners have three months to take corrective action.
There were about 3,500 people (passengers and crew) on the ship at the time of the fire. All were safely moved to evacuation stations and the fire was extinguished. Unfortunately one passenger succumbed to a heart problem at this time. The ship sailed under her own power to discharge her passengers; she then sailed to Germany for repairs. These will take about two months to complete.
Perhaps Allan can advise us if shore-side fire regulations stipulate what can be placed on an open balcony of a hotel or apartment block? If a fire broke out on a balcony in such a building, could it be safely extinguished without the residents leaving the building? If one resident suffered a heart related fatality in such a situation, would all buildings in the country be modified within three months of the incident? It is my belief that fire regulations for modern passenger ships are far more stringent than those applicable to buildings.
The reference to the country of registration of Star Princess is not relevant. All passenger carrying vessels trading in American waters must comply with US Coastguard safety regulations, which are probably the toughest in the world. Sadly no one considered the possible balcony hazard. As a result of this incident the problem is being immediately addressed. Star Princess cost $425 million. No one is going to knowingly risk this investment because of the choice of her balcony bulkhead material.

Fred

Mad Landsman
1st May 2006, 20:26
When the original posting on this subject went up I comented that shore side fire & building regs (in the UK) were very stringent and I could not imagine that a ship would be any less so.
From my own experience in building works I can say that most regulations only come into play when there are any new works or fresh application, such as new-build, extensions, improvements, change of use etc. Just as long as nothing happens to attract the attention of a Building inspector or Fire officer the 'safety' of some buildings can be years out of date.
This is evidently not true with ships which, at the very least, have to pass regular surveys and may be barred from trade if considered unfit at any time.
So I have to say, in a conflagration, the only difference I would feel is that the old, family run, country hotel would be unlikely to sink, but the modern well maintained cruise ship might.

newda898
1st May 2006, 22:40
Word has it that all the cushionson chairs etc have been removed from the balconies on Arcadia. Not sure if this is true, nor do I know whether the same has been done on any of the other P&O ships.

fred henderson
1st May 2006, 23:26
When the original posting on this subject went up I comented that shore side fire & building regs (in the UK) were very stringent and I could not imagine that a ship would be any less so.
From my own experience in building works I can say that most regulations only come into play when there are any new works or fresh application, such as new-build, extensions, improvements, change of use etc. Just as long as nothing happens to attract the attention of a Building inspector or Fire officer the 'safety' of some buildings can be years out of date.
This is evidently not true with ships which, at the very least, have to pass regular surveys and may be barred from trade if considered unfit at any time.
So I have to say, in a conflagration, the only difference I would feel is that the old, family run, country hotel would be unlikely to sink, but the modern well maintained cruise ship might.

I hate to tempt fate Clockman, but no modern cruise ship has sunk, nor has been in danger of doing so.
All modern cruise ships are well maintained, simply because they cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and make very large daily profits. The comparison with the old, family run, country hotel is the veteran cruise ship that is operated by a small company that is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy.

Fred

Frank P
2nd May 2006, 00:22
I hate to tempt fate Clockman, but no modern cruise ship has sunk, nor has been in danger of doing so.
All modern cruise ships are well maintained, simply because they cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and make very large daily profits. The comparison with the old, family run, country hotel is the veteran cruise ship that is operated by a small company that is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy.

Fred


What did the Titanic cost, converted into today's money?

Frank

allanc
2nd May 2006, 02:49
Obviously the differences between a building and a ship are fundamental. My point was that certain materials are intrinsically hazardous whether by being combustble, or by producing toxic products of combustion etc. In most cases building regs. don't differentiate between structural or non-loadbearing elements, if they can burn they will. Thus what applies to the main structure applies to everything else. I think this would apply equally to ships, especially in the case of newbuildings.

I liked the comments about ships possibly sinking, but just today I heard of two local cases of building collapse, one with fatal consequences. Can happen, and no lifeboats either!

It all comes down to adequate regulations, realistic standards and rigorous implementation. Here in Geelong we at present have a log carrier, described in the press as a 'ship of shame', no working toilets (heads?), no power in the galley, cranes without certification. Today we heard that several of the staunchions that retain the deck cargo failed, cargo over the side, fortunately no casualties. So much for flags of convenience and non-existant standards.

fred henderson
2nd May 2006, 11:26
What did the Titanic cost, converted into today's money?

Frank

Sorry Frank I should have made clear that I was talking about loss by fire. Dozens of famous liners were lost by fire. A number of liners converted to cruising have been lost to fire in the past. Thankfully not a single modern cruise ship has sunk as a result of a fire. (A small Windstar ship was a CTL because of an engine room fire a few years back, but she did not sink)
This dramatic safety improvement is due to modern design, construction materials, firefighting equipment, crew training and the rapid implementation of lessons learned.
Star Princess suffered a fire that was the first of its type. Of course with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, the regulations governing internal closed spaces should have been extended to open external balconies, but no one spotted the risk. The crew extiguished the fire without external assistance. Corrective action is being taken throughout the industry.

Fred

Pompeyfan
2nd May 2006, 19:30
Don't be put off by cruising Allanc. As I have said so many times, cruising in one of the safest forms of travel. As Fred said, would a building shore-side be modified within three months of an incident. The answer would be no. I would say that crew on ships, especially cruise ships is the most highly trained for fires than any staff of shore-side establishments outside of the fire brigade. They have to be well trained because they can't call on the fire brigade when miles out to sea. When I left the merchant navy I could not believe how poor fire training was. I went to a fire lecture in my first week and ended up lecturing the lecturer. I asked him where the Co2 extinguishers were. He said they did not have any, blaming a fire at the factory who made them. What a circus. We had a drill once after I pestered the bosses telling them of my sea training. The result was mayhem, nobody had a clue of what to do. Luckily, the fire brigade was just down the road.

So for anybody reading this, if you want to go on a cruise go. The likelyhood of the ship sinking or catching fire is very low. Fire Brigades are out every day shore-side be it house fires or whatever. In fact, we lost a pub today near me. A nice thatched pub in a quiet Isle of Wight village. Crew on ships train every week, but they would rarely have to put their training into practice on the same ratio as shore-side.

I still think the fire on Star Princess was made worse by opening the balcony door in the cabin where the fire started. Some people do not realize that opening an outside door causes a wind tunnel of immense strength which would have fanned the flames in seconds. David

allanc
3rd May 2006, 11:08
This has been an interesting thread, with some really informative discussion of some vital issues. That's what I find so satisfying about this site, if someone raises an issue there will be a wealth of opinions forthcoming, usually well informed. It leaves for dead many of the current shipping magazines, many of which are devoid of substance or solid information as to the whys and wherefores of shipping design criteria.

I confess to an obsession with such matters, and am grateful that this site above all others provides me with answers.

Long may it prosper,

Allan Collier

fred henderson
3rd May 2006, 20:58
Allan
As you have an interest from a related profession, you may be interested to know that the Star Princess fire is being investigated by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (at the request of the Government of Bermuda, the Flag State of the ship) together with the US Coastguard and the US National Transportation Safety Board. In the meanwhile the International Council of Cruise Lines has issued new safety instructions to its members and advice to all passenger ship operators. These can be read on http://www.iccl.org/policies/safety_notice_041306.pdf

Best regards

Fred (Read)

Derek Roger
4th May 2006, 00:21
If there is a fire on Deck ; Put it Out!
If one is on a balcony which is the same as on deck and one smells smoke sound the Fire Alarm !
If one is not happy being on the Balcony while there is a fire somewhere ???? Go back to your Cabin and have a Snooze in your cabin which meets all the regulations !
WhAT A LOT OF RUBBISH !!!!!

Its Almost as silly as the British / French idea of electrocuting lobsters before cooking / Putting them in the Pot !!

GET A GRIP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Glad I am not at Sea trying to deal with all this Rubbish !. Derek

allanc
4th May 2006, 05:03
Fred, thank you for the link, which seems entirely sensible. What still astounds me is that materials known to be highly combustible were used in areas that were difficult to reach, and prone to a natural upward spread of flames.

It reminds me of a tragedy in the UK some years back, when a pavillion at a beach resort which was clad with a new wonder material ignited due to a stray cigarette butt discarded by some kids. The plastic material burned rapidly, melting in the process and dropping on to dozens of people below as they fled the building. Deaths and horrendous injuries resulted.

I don't see this as panic mongering or restrictive humbug, just the excercise of commonsense and realistic imagination.

Regards, Allan