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SOLAS Regulation 11-2/10 - Firefighters' communication

Regulation II-2/10.10.4 is applicable to all new SOLAS ships constructed on or after July 1 2014.
Existing ships should comply with this requirement no later than the first survey after July 1 2018.

This regulation was proposed in the aftermath of an incident caused by fire in the engine room on board the Swedish tanker ‘Ek-River’ while in dry-dock. Based on this, upgrades of radio-communication equipment for fire fighters including additional equipment such as smoke diver emergency alarm, PASS alarm and location lights were proposed.

What does the regulation say?
MSC 91 adopted amendments to SOLAS Regulation II-2/10 to add a new paragraph 10.4 to clarify that a minimum of two two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire-fighters’ communication shall be carried on board. These radio devices shall be of an explosion proof type or Intrinsically Safe (IS).

What type of ships does this regulation apply to?
The regulation does not specify type of the vessel. All ships with firefighting teams on board need to comply.

What does IS mean?
IS is a term used to describe products designed for use in hazardous (explosive) locations. These are areas where flammable liquids, vapours, gases or combustible dusts are likely to occur in quantities sufficient to cause a fire or explosion.

How are IS radios different from normal radios?
In normal use, electrical equipment can create tiny internal sparks and heat. Both of these can become a source of ignition in a flammable atmosphere.
IS radios will not create the sparks and/or heat sufficient to ignite an explosive atmosphere.

How do we know that a radio is IS?
IS products are tested by independent accredited labs under specific standards to qualify as an IS product. For example, the standard applicable in Europe is called ATEX. Your supplier should be able to provide you an approval certificate showing the brand and model number of the radio.

What is ATEX?

ATEX is an EU directive dealing with electrical equipment for use in explosive atmospheres.
It categorizes the hazardous environment into three Gas Groups: IIA, IIB, and IIC.
Group IIC is the most severe group, i.e. gases/vapours in this group can be ignited very easily.

Flammable materials are also categorized according to their ignition temperatures which are called temperature classes.

Entel radios have a temperature class of T4 or 135oC, i.e. the temperature of an Entel radio will not rise beyond 135oC in case of an electronic failure.