Analysis of effectiveness of fire safety in machinery spaces

James McNay, Romanas Puisa, Dracos Vassalos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


The primary cause of machinery space fires is cited as the release of flammable oil mist contacting unprotected hot surfaces. With this being common knowledge why do we continue to see this type of incident reoccurring on ships carrying thousands of passengers to precarious destinations? We review regulatory and Class requirements with respect to fire safety, Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) as a rule-making instrument of the IMO, accident investigation recommendations involving fire, fire safety technology, and research literature. For each constituent of fire safety control, the paper aims to determine the preferred strategies for accident prevention and their relative cost effectiveness. Subsequently, the cost effectiveness of the current safety approach is established. This review found that fire prevention could be made more cost effective if its scope was broadened beyond the detection of proximate events occurring immediately before ignition. The findings suggest that more cost-effective safety measures can be developed by addressing systemic causes of fire. Removal of the systemic causal factors of fire from the equation, means we can address fire safety prior to the moments before ignition when the point of no return can unwittingly be passed. The paper suggests directions of how this can be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102859
Number of pages12
JournalFire Safety Journal
Early online date12 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2019


  • fire
  • machinery space
  • engine room
  • ship
  • marine
  • safety
  • bowtie models


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