Here's something some people might be interested in reading about the Star Princess fire:
Great find, and thank you for posting the link! This interim report gives a very clear picture of what happened, but it also shows the swift manner in which the cognizant authorities and a trade association are addressing the matter.
The remaining quotes, set in italics, are from the analysis section of the interim report.
Following the accident, it has been determined by practical tests that the materials at the seat of the fire were readily ignitable, and that the polycarbonate balcony divisions generated intense heat and copious amounts of dense black smoke as they burned (Figure 4).
It was obvious that something highly flammable was involved, but I'm stunned that a cruise line that's as conscientious about safety as Princess would accept a ship with such materials, even "just" as external partititions. One obvious corrective action is to replace all
of the balcony partitions abboard MV Star Princess
now, while she is in the yard for the other repairs. Replacement of partitions on other vessels should happen as expeditiously as possible, whcih may be during cruises or during the next yard visit.
SOLAS regulations, as included in Chapter II-2 [/i]Construction-Fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction[/i], do not, currently, prescribe the combustibility of materials used on external balcony areas, as these are not included within the vessel’s fire zones.[/i] (emphasis in oritinal)
I'm surprised, in light of the general requirements for fire retardent construction. An amendment requiring correction on next yard visit should be an immediate priority.
Similarly, balcony areas on cruise ships are not required to have fixed fire detection or suppression systems, as would be the case in internal areas.
Yes, and the fact that MV Star Princess
did not have such systems was pretty obvious from the manner in which the fire spread. Again, the amendment of the regulations should require installation on next yard visit. (emphasis in original)
Additionally, balcony areas are frequently difficult to monitor due to their inaccessibility. This accident clearly demonstrates the risk of a serious fire starting and quickly spreading in areas not covered by regulation.
Anybody care to guess what scenario the U. S. Coast Guard will be using for drill scenarios during the next round of SOLAS inspections?