On February 17, 2021, about 2232 local time, a fire was reported on the commercial fish processor Aleutian Falcon while the vessel was docked for repairs at the Trident Seafoods shipyard in Tacoma, Washington. Firefighting crews from the Tacoma Fire Department responded, and the fire was extinguished over 4 days later on February 22. No one was on board the vessel at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries reported. An estimated 20–30 gallons of hydraulic oil leaked into the water but were captured by a containment boom. The vessel was declared a constructive total loss with an estimated value of $16,460,850.
We determined that the probable cause of the fire aboard the fish processor Aleutian Falcon was the company’s supervisory personnel inadequately planning for hot work, as well as shoreside workers’ inadequately protecting hot work areas, allowing slag from hot work to ignite combustible material near an insulated wooden bulkhead of a walk-in refrigerator that had not been removed or sufficiently protected. Contributing to the casualty was the ineffective communication between the supervisory personnel, marine chemist, and workers.
It is critical for supervisory personnel to evaluate hot work areas for fire hazards to ensure that affected spaces are completely understood, prepared, and protected for planned hot work in accordance with regulatory guidelines, company policies, and marine chemist certificates. Adherence to proper policies and procedures is vital to completing a safe hot work operation. Additionally, crewmembers and personnel involved in hot work should be able to identify hazards and take action to remove or mitigate potential risks to the vessel.