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Why Do Marine Businesses Need Fire Risk Assessments?

The possibility of a fire at sea sounds like a contradictory yet daunting prospect, especially when the surrounding water doesn’t necessarily offer the best method of escape or solution. This makes it imperative for businesses operating on and around the sea to take the obligatory steps in assessing the risks of fire and implementing suitable prevention methods.

Read on to discover the main fire hazards found on vessels and at ports, and learn why proper prevention is so important.

The Hazards

There are certain fire hazards that are prevalent on all types of ships and at ports. It is important to understand what poses the highest risks of fire at these locations. Below are two lists detailing the most common causes of fire on ships and at sea ports.


Fuel Leaks: Many ships’ boiler rooms are prone catalysts to the onset of fires - harbouring fuel, heat and oxygen. Should there be an oil or gas leak from a fuel pipe, this is at an immediate risk of starting a fire if it is not rectified promptly. Due to the properties of oil, it will sit on top of water rather than mixing with it, meaning any oil that leaks into the sea will be aflame on top of the water should a boat fire spread. This may limit evacuation possibilities.

Inflammable Cargo: Cargo ships often carry vast amounts of cargo. Although many are stored in metal containers, wooden crates may also be used, which will easily set alight. Additionally, shipping containers can range to having all sorts of contents - with high potential that many of these are flammable. There is a high likelihood that cruise ships or ferries also contain flammable materials, such as large amounts of carpeting or bed linens in passenger rooms.


Onsite Vehicles and Machinery: There are often large vehicles and machinery operating in ports throughout the day. It is important that these stay clean and dust free to avoid any blockages in their components that could cause fires if overheated. This is why the temperatures of such machinery should also be regulated.

Weather: Typically being situated at the coast, ports are exposed to harsh weather conditions that come with being by the sea, like high-gust winds. Whilst these conditions won’t necessarily start a fire, they can assist in the spread of an existing fire, often at a fast pace. The rate at which a fire can spread can cause devastating effects, hence appropriate evacuation procedures must be put in place.


As proven by the previously stated hazards, it is vital that the correct preventative measures are taken in the maritime industry. This is why a proper fire safety risk assessment should be carried out at ports and aboard ships.

These fire risk assessments will identify:

  • Any fire threats

  • Where preventative measures need to be taken

  • The best preventative measures to take

  • If the correct equipment has been supplied to tackle potential fires

Aboard ships, section 2.2 of the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers 2021 should be referred to when adhering to the basic requirements for risk assessment.

Here at EK Fire Protection we operate an extensive marine division covering all major ports and all types and sizes of vessels. Do you want to know how much the fire risk assessment cost would be for your maritime business? Get in touch today for your no-obligation quote.

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