In July 2014, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amended SOLAS regulation II-2/10
The IMO have introduced new requirements for fire protection of on-deck cargo areas.
The IMO standard amendment states:
“Fire-fighter communication on-board - Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on firefighting enter into force on 1 July 2014, to require a minimum of two two-way portable radio telephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighters’ communication to be carried. The apparatus shall be of an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the above requirements not later than the first survey after 1 July 2018”
So what does this mean?
Each fire crew, on board new ships constructed before 1st July 2014 must carry 2 x two way radios. These must comply with explosion proof or Intrinsically Safe standards.
These requirements should be implemented no later than 1st July 2018
Who is affected by this regulation?
Regulation II-2/10.10.4 is applicable to all new SOLAS ships constructed on or after July 1 2014. Existing ships should comply with this requirement no later than the first survey after July 1 2018.
Why was this regulation adopted?
This regulation was proposed in the aftermath of an incident caused by fire in the engine room on board the Swedish tanker ‘Ek-River’ while in dry-dock. Based on this, upgrades of radio-communication equipment for fire fighters including additional equipment such as smoke diver emergency alarm, PASS alarm and location lights were proposed.
What does the regulation say?
MSC 91 adopted amendments to SOLAS Regulation II-2/10 to add a new paragraph 10.4 to clarify that a minimum of two two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire-fighters’ communication shall be carried on board. These radio devices shall be of an explosion proof type or Intrinsically Safe (IS).
What type of ships does this regulation apply to?
The regulation does not specify type of the vessel. All ships with firefighting teams on board need to comply.
What does IS mean?
IS is a term used to describe products designed for use in hazardous (explosive) locations. These are areas where flammable liquids, vapours, gases or combustible dusts are likely to occur in quantities sufficient to cause a fire or explosion.
How are IS radios different from normal radios?
In normal use, electrical equipment can create tiny internal sparks and heat. Both of these can become a source of ignition in a flammable atmosphere. IS radios will not create the sparks and/or heat sufficient to ignite an explosive atmosphere
How do we know that a radio is IS?
IS products are tested by independent accredited labs under specific standards to qualify as an IS product. For example, the standard applicable in Europe is called ATEX. Your supplier should be able to provide you an approval certificate showing the brand and model number of the radio.
How do I know which standard of IS to use for my vessels?
The specifications depend on individual Flag of the vessel. For example, it is mandatory for European companies and European-flag vessels to use ATEX certified equipment.
What is ATEX?
ATEX is an EU directive dealing with electrical equipment for use in explosive atmospheres. It categorizes the hazardous environment into three Gas Groups: IIA, IIB, and IIC (II is a Roman numeral). Group IIC is the most severe group, i.e. gases/vapours in this group can be ignited very easily. Flammable materials are also categorized according to their ignition temperatures which are called temperature classes.
How do I decide which frequency band to order for the radios?
This would depend on the frequency band currently being used by your vessel’s crew for on-board communication. Both VHF and UHF bands are widely used.
So which radio do I choose?
There are a number of ATEX radio’s on the market:
To ensure you get the best radio for the hazardous task in hand, make sure the radios comply with these basics:
- ATEX Certified
- IP67 rated 'what is an IP rating?'
- High quality audio
- Easy to use when wearing gloves
There are additional features that are available depending on the make of radio you choose. Along with various accessories such as:
- Remote speaker microphones
- Carry cases
- Bone conduction headsets
- Intrinsically safe noise cancelling headsets
- Intrinsically safe throat vibrating earpieces
- Intrinsically safe skull microphone and earpiece