SAILOR stays ahead of the regulatory curve amid new safety regulations to protect fire-fighting seafarers
Fires and explosions can have a devastating impact on a ship. Without rapid and effective remedial action, incidents can inflict untold damage on the vessel, passengers, crew, and the marine environment.
When fires and explosions occur at sea they often unfold in the same chaotic incident, with fires causing explosions and vice versa. During the most extreme and dangerous scenarios, the risks to all can be influenced significantly by the effectiveness of the radio communications equipment that seafarers must rely on in an emergency.
Communication is vital
When working in the open sea, the crew is solely dependent on itself and the available resources and equipment to manage fires and explosions. Effective communication is essential to coordinate a fire-fighter team, while maintaining the best possible overview of the situation. This would not be possible without effective radio equipment.
In acknowledgement of this, the Maritime Safety Committee amended Chapter II-2 “Construction – Fire Protection, Fire Detection and Fire Extinction” with Regulation 10.10.4 in The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) back in November 2012. The regulations required a ‘minimum of two two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighter’s communication’. Furthermore, the regulations state that all radios must be explosion proof or intrinsically safe, ready for use at all times, capable of use by fire-fighters, made for the marine environment and added to a vessel in addition to all existing on-board portable radios. In terms of deadlines, every SOLAS-regulated ship built after 1st July 2014 was required to have the right safety equipment in place, and all other ships no later than the first survey after1st January 2018.
Raising the bar
At Cobham Satcom, understanding and preparing for new regulations to meet the most challenging conditions at sea is what we do. What’s more, a strong focus on the safety of life at sea is embedded into our approach at every touchpoint across our business. With this approach front and centre, our team answered calls from the Maritime Safety Committee for mandatory two-way radios onboard through the launch of SAILOR 3965 back in 2017.
The solution? A complete radio package specifically designed for SOLAS Chapter II-2 to maximise fire safety at sea. A radio build to fit for purpose based on compliance to the demanding environmental and technical standards developed for handheld radios used in the harsh marine environment.
Our commitment did not stop with the adoption of Chapter II-2 Regulation 10.10.4. In the last months, we welcomed new tighter safety regulations from the IMO and EU for the use of fire fighter radios at sea.
The two regulatory updates concern the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) unified interpretation of the essential safety requirements of the fire-fighter radio, and the European Union’s (EU) addition of the fire-fighter radio in the Marine Equipment Directive (MED).
The IMO’s new unified interpretation of the essential safety requirements of fire-fighter radios is based on recommendations from the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), to set a minimum level for intrinsic safety.
Approval under the MED is based on dedicated maritime standards, taking the harsh environment and users’ conditions into consideration. The decision to include the fire-fighter radio in the MED, which contains more stringent approval procedures, demonstrates the EU’s commitment to ensuring radios are fit for purpose and better support life at sea safety provision.
From 3 October 2022, all new fire-fighter radios installed on-board EU flagged vessels have to be Wheelmark approved to prove compliance with the MED. Until that date, Radio Equipment Directive (RED) CE marked radios will be accepted, conditioned they live up to the essential requirements to personal safety, effective use of the frequency spectrum, and EMC, all related to use in the marine environment.
New performance standards
The updated regulations have, for the first time, set performance standards for fire fighter radios – and we are proud to say our SAILOR 3965 UHF Fire Fighter radio is already compliant with both the IMO and EU updates. The alignment of our SAILOR 3965 Fire Fighter Radio with the new IMO and EU regulations is the latest example of our innovative, safety-first philosophy in action. We hope to continue driving further improvements in seafarer safety through our world-leading R&D process, which has supported seafarer welfare for more than 50 years.