Posted 1 July 2003
A fire at sea is a traveller's worst nightmare. To guard against such a disaster there exist stringent safety standards, maintained through a process of testing and certification. The pre-eminent authority is Lloyd's Register of Shipping, an organization founded in 1760 to inform underwriters and merchants about the condition of the ships they insured and chartered.
Today, certification by Lloyd's Register is a significant commercial achievement. Earlier this year, Lloyd's issued a 'Certificate of Fire Approval' to a new stainless steel fire damper for use on merchant and passenger ships. Grade 316L stainless steel was used in the dampers because of its dual resistance to high temperatures and corrosion in a demanding marine environment.
In tests conducted by the Warrington Fire Research Group at CSIRO's North Ryde facility, the single-blade and multi-blade units made by ASSDA member Unique Metal Works were subjected to 900+¡C temperatures for an hour. They successfully prevented fire spreading across a nominal Class A-60 deck, in compliance with Lloyd's Register Rules and Regulations and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
The dampers were developed and fabricated by the Perth company, which utilises stainless steel to produce a variety of safety and environmental control equipment and other products. They are installed to isolate fire zones on a ship, for instance, where ventilation or air conditioning ducts pass from one zone to another. The controls can be electric or pneumatic depending on the ship's system. The blades are designed to remain open while the pneumatic power to the control actuators is maintained and to close down when there is a disruption to the supply. Under test conditions, this took 4 seconds for the 150mm x 150mm single-blade damper and 35 seconds for the 900mm x 900mm multi-blade type, well below the 90 seconds allowed.
UMW's certification is an example of Australian innovation being recognized internationally for high standards of materials, workmanship and construction.
This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 25, July 2003.
Photo courtesy of Austal Ships Pty Ltd. Vessel pictured is typical of those that use this type of fire damper.