“More surveyors are now becoming aware of the need to check this certification but, depending on the flag, when the surveyor comes in to sign off the boat, they are either going to be up on this legislation or not,” Balodis adds. “We have had circumstances where captains have been in yachting for many years and have never heard of this change in requirement and it is because it is just one small, but vital, part of the overall requirements of a survey and surveyors are not always aware of the changes. But unlike something that is just done for the certification, fire retarding can be quite serious if it is not done properly, or at all, in some cases.”
"Unlike something that is just done for the certification, fire retarding can be quite serious if it is not done properly, or at all, in some cases.”
The essence of the message that Balodis is trying to convey is that fire retardant treatment is not just about obtaining another piece of paper for the a yacht, but it is about safety. “It is designed to give you some extra valuable minutes in the case of a fire,” he explains. “And it shouldn’t get to that point anyway because if a flame were to catch onto a fabric that has been treated, then it should snub itself out – it is preventative and proactive. I think that as people become more familiar with the need to have the work done and the process, then they will start to realise that it should be part of a yearly, scheduled refit programme,” Balodis concludes. “It is an insignificant cost in comparison to the cost of having to repair a vessel that has suffered a fire."
If a commercial vessel is over 500gt, then it is required to have a fogging system, which means that fire retardant treatment is not required, but Balodis emphasises that this is not necessarily a reason to forgo the treatment. “One boat that we work with is privately owned and they have a fogging system so they absolutely aren’t required to be treated,” he recalls. “But the captain has experienced a fire on a previous vessel so he wants to maximise anything he can do to protect the vessel. We often find that the crew that have experienced fires on board before are the ones that don’t ever question why.”