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How to prevent conveyor belt fire during cargo operations onboard Self- unloading bulk carrier

Prevention of fire by safe practices is of utmost importance. Absolutely NO SMOKING is allowed in the Loop and Tunnel. Fire patrols are to be maintained in the Loop and Tunnel to ensure that there is no evidence of any possible source of fire. The three senses of sight, smell and hearing are to be used.

self unloader operation
Fig:self unloader operation

During discharging, when all the machinery is running, check the following:

  1. For overheating of any bearings or rollers.
  2. For Hydraulic leaks.
  3. That belts are running normally, and not slipping at the pulleys
  4. For oily rags, waste etc.
  5. That Tunnel exhaust fans are operational.
  6. That the belt is not rubbing against any build-up of cargo spillage.
  7. For noise or squeaking from bearings, or any smoke.
  8. That the electrical panels are guarded from cargo dust.
  9. That no person is carrying out an unsafe act.
  10. That all fire and water tight doors leading to SUL spaces are kept closed.



Fires in the Loop and Tunnel areas are very dangerous, as the conditions are conducive to its rapid spread, and also that they are in the vicinity of highly flammable areas, such as oil tanks, rubber belts, hydraulic oil, and the hold plastic lining.

The following safe practices must be exercised when carrying out hotwork in the Tunnel:-
Maintain checks and fire patrol up to six hours after completion of hot work.

NOTE: WHEN PERFORMING HOTWORK ON THE UNLOADING GEAR, A FIRE OR WASHDOWN HOSE UNDER PRESSURE MUST BE AT THE WORKSITE WITH ONE MAN PRESENT AS A FIRE WATCHMAN ONLY. THE FIRE WATCH IS TO BE MAINTAINED DURING COFFEE AND MEAL BREAKS. THE FIREWATCH MUST BE MAINTAINED FOR 60 MINUTES AFTER HOTWORK IS COMPLETED.


Dealing with Conveyor Belt Fires:

Rubber belt fires are highly toxic and acrid, and SCBA are to be worn to fight the fire. If the fire becomes unmanageable the space must be evacuated, and the shore fire brigade contacted immediately.
  1. Do not stop the belt if it catches fire.
  2. Train fire hoses on the running belt at intervals
  3. Start the Loop sprinkler.
  4. Shut the gates and stop the gate pumps.
  5. Fire extinguishers may only douse the fire, and water must be used to ensure that the fire has been completely extinguished.
  6. Tunnel exhausts fans must be kept running initially to reduce the toxic smoke, but stopped when entry is made using SCBA.
  7. Hose down the seat or cause of fire, e.g. overheated bearing etc.
  8. Maintain a headcount check.
  9. Evacuate the area, and seal the exits if fire fighting efforts prove insufficient. (Note: The Loop house acts as a high riser encouraging the fire.
  10. Always maintain telephone contact with the port or local fire brigade.

After evacuation of the Tunnel and Loop, extinguishing the fire by using spray nozzle hoses from outside, or flooding the Tunnel will be required. Masters are required to calculate the vessels stability assuming the tunnel is flooded at various levels, and has a free surface over the entire area. The assumption that a few ballast tanks are slack with cargo full, and part full, should be made.




Related info :

Fire in cargo holds & emergency preparedness

Shipboard hazards & bulk carriers safety guideline

Health hazards for personnel working in a dusty condition onboard





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Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please Contact us

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