Britannia P&I club has noted that having a barbecue (bbq) on board ship was a popular social activity and was easy to organise. However, the club has warned that, as with any fire, it was vital to remember that the crew would be dealing with potentially dangerous situations as well as flammable substances.
Britannia related a recent case where things went wrong.
- a BBQ for the whole crew was scheduled for the evening
- fire extinguishers were nearby, a water hose was connected to a hydrant near the BBQ and there were also buckets of water close by
- two able seamen (ABs) were tasked with getting the fire started
- there were two containers of paint thinner ready to use to help light the BBQ, one large (18 litres) and one small.
When the ABs came to light the BBQ, the thinner was poured from the large container into the small one. Sticks with cloth wrapped around the top were soaked with thinner and used to wet the coal. According to reports, the containers of thinner were some distance away from the BBQ, but somehow one of the ABs was insufficiently careful and both the containers ignited/exploded, causing severe burns to 80% of his body.
The other AB suffered minor burns.
The ship deviated to disembark the ABs. Both were hospitalized. The AB with minor burns was discharged quickly, but the other AB died several days later from medical complications.
Britannia said that “this tragic case shows that it is not enough to follow safety protocol in terms of firefighting precautions. Having buckets of water, fire extinguishers and hoses on hand did not prevent the accident – it was the actual method of lighting the fire that caused it.”