Engine Room Fire Safety: A Critical Review and How Kaiko Systems Can Help

The engine room is critical but hazardous. Effective fire safety involves maintaining steel separations, controlling oxygen, managing combustibles, and addressing ignition sources. Kaiko Systems helps to ensure these measures are met, enhancing safety and compliance ahead of USCG inspections.

The engine room is often described as the heart of a ship, as it is the vital area that allows the entire structure to move through the seas. However, it is also associated with the most hazards onboard. Most fires on ships start in the engine room, making fire safety in this area of paramount importance. Thorough investigation of all aspects is crucial to ensure a safe environment onboard.

Importance of Steel Separations

According to Gard P&I Club, several built-in safety features on board a vessel are designed to limit fire risk and spread. One of the foremost is maintaining steel separations. These include transverse and longitudinal bulkheads as well as tank top plates. Steel separations are crucial in limiting the spread of fire within the ship’s compartments, isolating the fire source. Maintenance of these fire boundaries is essential for ensuring fire safety. Bulkhead pipe and cable penetrations are sensitive areas prone to defects and crack initiation. Monitoring the structural integrity of these elements necessitates the use of a proper monitoring tool like the Kaiko Systems, which can track maintenance progress and record any potential defects or areas of attention without delay.

Fire Dampers and Oxygen Control

Fire in the engine room can become catastrophic with an influx of oxygen. The higher the oxygen concentration, the longer the fire stays ignited and spreads. Proper operation of the engine room fire dampers is crucial in maintaining a firefighting front by preventing oxygen influx during a fire. Although fire damper operational tests are assumed to be conducted regularly, operational failure remains a common deficiency on ships. Ensuring proper inspection and maintenance schedules, and providing valid inspection evidence, is difficult without a reliable digital tool. With the Kaiko Systems app, officers can track routine inspections and follow up on observations, ensuring that fire dampers are operational.

Managing Combustible Materials

The presence of combustible oils increases fire risk in the engine room, making vigilance essential. General cleanliness, proper storage practices, and valve controls must be maintained, and unauthorized tampering with safety mechanisms prevented.

Fire risk can also be reduced by identifying and addressing potential ignition sources, such as hot exhaust pipes, electrical installations, and rotating machinery. Inspection and maintenance of all areas and machinery components are crucial to preventing fire initiation. The Kaiko app facilitates this task by enabling crew members to follow a structured inspection process, supported by photographic evidence, to record all required areas of attention and remarks. This process simplifies inspections and maintenance tasks for the crew and allows the shore team to monitor and review onboard activities, providing real-time feedback and instructions.

Firefighting Equipment Readiness

An adequate firefighting equipment system's readiness is essential for responding promptly to engine room fires. Effective firefighting capabilities include well-maintained fire extinguishers, fire pumps, and fixed extinguishing systems. Fire containment and suppression also rely on crew training and familiarity with firefighting equipment and procedures. Kaiko Systems offers a detailed, location-based inspection regime, ensuring all fire-fighting equipment (FFE) and life-saving appliances (LSA) items are checked. Routine safety inspections required by SOLAS and the MSC circulars can be set up within the app, helping the crew conduct inspections efficiently and allowing the shore team to follow up smoothly.


Beginning on 1 April 2024 and continuing until 30 June 2024, USCG Port State Control (PSC) Officers will conduct enhanced exams to verify engine room fire safety. Proper preparation and maintenance are crucial to passing these inspections. The Kaiko app is an invaluable tool for ensuring that all safety measures are up to date and properly documented, thereby enhancing overall safety and compliance.

By implementing these measures and utilizing tools like Kaiko Systems, crews can significantly improve engine room fire safety, protecting both the vessel and its crew from potential disasters.

Request a product demo

By signing up, I agree to the Kaiko Systems Privacy Policy.
Your account is being prepared!
Our team will reach out to you shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.