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USCG warns on fire hazards of extra large drying machines

USCG warns on fire hazards of extra large drying machines

Following a small fire in a high capacity laundry dryer on board a cruise ship, the US Coast Guard issued a safety alert advising operators to re-evaluate risks and ensure that safety component overrides are prohibited. USCG said additional signage and instructions may be merited.

The fire was quickly extinguished by the ship's crew and caused no significant damage.

USCG said it was discovered that a built-in fire suppression system, a component of the dryers designed to spray water into the drums in case of fire, had been disabled on all six of the vessel's dryers. Initial investigation found the procedures related to these suppression systems were not part of the ship's maintenance systems.

'Regular inspections and evaluations of this fire suppression equipment did not occur, despite other excellent modern risk reduction actions routinely undertaken by the crew,' the USCG safety alert said. Another concern involved which department was specifically responsible for inspecting and maintaining the equipment.

Laundry systems and the normal production of lint create significant fire hazards due to the lint's flammability, USCG noted. Nearly two decades ago, a fire occurred on Carnival Ecstasy due to a welding spark igniting lint. As a result, operators have developed dryer fire prevention procedures that describe the exact process for securing the equipment and cleaning the machines' internal and external areas.

Most dryer fires are caused by spontaneous combustion of soils, paint, edible oils and other residuals, USCG said, citing naval publications Other causes or contributing factors are human errors or negligence such as leaving dried materials unattended in the dryer and improper cleaning of lint traps.

Important procedures include cooling down dryer loads for 10 minutes at ambient temperatures, along with properly operating automatic temperature controls and timing devices.

The USCG safety alert advised operators to re-evaluate risks associated with the equipment, identify and maintain all associated safety equipment and extinguishing systems, establish clear lines of responsibility for inspections, maintenance and repair, and to prohibit personnel from overriding safety components.

Further, USCG said additional signage may be needed, and provided a sample warning sign.

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