Australian authorities have announced that the country will be carrying out a concentrated inspection campaign on Fire Safety systems to be used on board vessels that travel in Australian waters, as well as in Australian ports.
The inspection, which is expected to be conducted between the 1 September 2012 and the 30 November 2012, is being coordinated by cooperation between Australia, France and Japan, and aims to ensure that the countries are in compliance with international Fire Safety Systems requirements, as laid out by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). This document describes appropriate measures to be taken and equipment used for fire extinction, fire protection and fire detection on board vessels.
The inspections will be carried out on as many sea-faring vessels as possible that fall under the scope of the campaign, namely any vessels that have been registered to travel in Australian waters. Port authorities and government officials will be carrying out the fire safety inspections at the same time as the annual routine flag state control and port state control inspections. Vessel owners will need to provide maintenance records, fire safety protocols and other fire protection related documents as part of the inspection.
The vessels and ports will be checked for fire safety control systems, to ensure that they are in line with international safety requirements. The concentrated inspection campaign will be based on a checklist designed by the Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), consisting of 12 crucial elements that should be in place for adequate fire protection.
Post State Control Officers will be using this checklist to examine ships in Australian harbors, through the use of a questionnaire completed by crew members and a physical inspection of the ship. If any discrepancies are found between the recommended fire safety requirements and the vessel, the captain will have a specified time period to correct the deficiency. If the problem is not rectified, the master of the ship as well the ship owner or contractor will be subject to a hefty fine.
Any vessels that have already undergone a fire safety systems inspection by any member country of the Tokyo or Paris MOU should provide the results of the inspection to local authorities, and their vessel will not have to be included in the concentrated inspection campaign.
According to Australian port officials, it is hoped that more than 10 000 vessels will be inspected during this time.