Revised IMO guidelines on water mist systems put emphasis on maintenance and performance, according to Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions (WTS).

The company stated that shipowners and operators should be aware of amendments to the existing IMO circular MSC.1/Circ 1432, relating to the maintenance and inspection of fire protection systems and appliances. These amendments, contained in MSC.1/Circ 1516, were adopted by the 95thMaritime Safety Committee in June 2015. They state that in addition to scheduled onboard maintenance and inspections, the manufacturer’s own maintenance and inspection guidelines should be followed.

The adoption of the amendments comes as a consequence of an analysis by the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment which found that even when recommended guidelines were followed, not all water mist and sprinkler systems were performing as expected, WTS stated.

The quality of water in automatic sprinkler systems is said to be of particular importance and shall be maintained in accordance with manufacturer guidelines and a record of water quality should be kept onboard.

There are several amendments covering the maintenance and inspection of water mist, water spray and sprinkler systems. Erik Christensen, global technical solution manager at WTS, explained that whether choosing a new system or maintaining an existing installation, owners should be aware of the differences between systems and their operational profiles.

“Water mist is a very generic description, covering systems with different configurations, components and pressures,” he said. “Hence they have different maintenance requirements, in contrast to sprinkler systems which are quite similar regardless of the make.”

He underscored the importance of having water mist systems fully checked, verified and in satisfactory working order. Christensen said that problems were most likely the result of crew not understanding the importance of the correct maintenance and operation of the systems.