Prepare for PSC CIC on fire safety

The International Group Clubs have noted that this year’s concentrated inspection campaign by port state control (PSC) starts on September 1st 2023 and will focus on fire safety, both from a technical and operational aspect.

The 2023 joint concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) by the Tokyo and Paris MoUs PSC regimes has likely been triggered by the large number of fire safety-related deficiencies recorded over many years. The Paris MOU reported fire safety defects as the leading cause of deficiencies in 2022.

Another top deficiency category was ISM-related issues, which often also involved fire safety. Inspections conducted by the US Coast Guard over the past few years had yielded similar worrying results. According to its 2022 Annual Report, fire safety deficiencies lead all deficiency categories for the second year in a row and the number of ISM-related deficiencies increased compared to 2021. US Coast Guard highlighted the following observations in its report:

  • Fire Safety: Oil accumulation in the engine room stood out once again, with more than 70 deficiencies. These mostly included oil-soaked insulation, fuel leaks, excessive oil in the bilge, plus open buckets filled with oily waste, throughout engine rooms. In addition, several deficiencies involved firefighting equipment that was not readily available. Examples included water-mist nozzles covered with plastic and tape, a fire-extinguishing main control panel that was turned off, and a CO2 storage room secured with a padlock for which the key was nowhere to be found.
  • ISM: The majority of ISM-related deficiencies were linked to maintenance of the ship and equipment, reporting of non-conformities, and shipboard operations. On one ship, all fuel shutoff valves when tested were found to be inoperable, even though its maintenance logs showed testing had been conducted 14 days prior. On another ship, multiple smoke detectors in the engine room were found to be inoperable. Similar to fire safety-related deficiencies, a consistent lack of general cleanliness in the engine room was a cause also for ISM-related deficiencies.

As was the case in previous years, the CIC will last for three months, from September 1st to November 30th 2023, and will be included as an additional part of routine PSC inspections during the campaign period. The attending PSC Officers (PSCOs) will use a questionnaire tailored to verify specific topics and areas relevant to the CIC.

Marine insurer and International Group member Gard said that ships and their equipment should always be maintained in such a way as to ensure safe operations and PSC inspections. “However, targeted PSC inspections announced in advance, like the annual CIC, serve as timely reminders for companies and seafarers to focus on specific areas where a higher risk of accidents and/or non-compliance with international safety regulations could exist”, said Gard.

The Paris and Tokyo MOUs’ official CIC questionnaire is likely to be published in early August.