The Importance of Safety Valve Fire Testing

Fires and explosions are the fifth most common cause for vessel casualties. Valve fire testing is a necessary safety step for your business.


Safety valve fire testing plays a crucial role in ensuring vessel safety and compliance in the shipping and maritime industry. And it protects the environment, safeguards cargo and prevents potential disasters.


Why Certifications Matter in the Maritime Industry

Certificates are essential for all maritime companies to remain compliant with international regulations regarding safety, testing, environmental protection, and crew competence. They also demonstrate an industry taking proactive steps to uphold strict standards and promote industry reliability and integrity, thus building trust for end users.

In the cargo tank ventilation industry, certifications ensure safety valves and valve systems operate according to regulations, offering a layer of protection over vessels, cargo, crew, and the environment.

“Many in the industry tend to neglect the importance of obtaining the right certificates”, says Søren Bay Jensen, founder and CEO of Bay Valves, and he continues:

“Unfortunately, this negligence can often lead to accidents. The marine industry has experienced over 900 fire and explosion-related events, mainly resulting from valve malfunction or similar. Certificates, especially ones related to fire testing, are a vital step we can all take to reduce this number”.


Are Certificates the Same Worldwide?

Certificates are developed from the rules and regulations set by international governing bodies like the European Commission (EC) or the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). However, they’re not always the same. Adoption of ISO standards by local governments and independent Classification Societies (CS) can take many years due to delays.

One example is specific ISO standards in the European Commissions’ (EC) recent Marine Equipment directive which have not been adopted by CS’s outside of the EU. This means some manufacturers and shipping vessels could hold certificates that don’t fully align with the latest international rules and regulations governing maritime operations.

“It’s essential that regulatory entities prioritise timely implementation of rules and regulations regarding vessel safety, and that industry players become more aware of changing regulations and remain compliant worldwide”, explains Søren.

“This will help harmonise safety standards across the industry on a more global scale. And ensure certifications meet the latest cargo ventilation system safety requirements”.


Mismatched scrutiny

One other issue facing the global maritime industry is a lack of certificate test report scrutiny, with many local authorities and CS’s incapable of properly reading, reviewing and understanding them. And ultimately failing to distinguish between ones that are legitimate — and ones that aren’t.

“Because of this limited understanding, local regulatory entities cannot properly assess a certificate’s validity, opting to simply issue a certificate based on another certificate — something known as ‘stamp the stamp practice’”, explains Søren.

This practice happens when entities stamp a certificate and issue a brand-new one based on the same test report, without scrutinizing the report behind the first certificate. This often occurs in regions that place a lot of emphasis on global competitiveness and overlook maritime safety.

“It’s imperative that local authorities possess a clear understanding of the test reports and review every detail. This scrutiny is crucial, as it ultimately upholds the highest safety and regulatory compliance”, explains Søren.

An Industry-Wide Solution

To address these challenges, it’s essential that we advocate for unification across the global maritime industry, push for more timely adoption of international standards, and encourage local authorities to accurately scrutinise certificates and their test reports. By doing so, we can foster an environment of progress and accountability worldwide.


Safety valve fire testing plays a crucial role in ensuring vessel safety and compliance in the shipping and maritime industry. And it protects the environment, safeguards cargo and prevents potential disasters.

Why is Valve Fire Testing Important?
There are several reasons why high-velocity valve fire testing is essential.
First off, valves safeguard and protect your vessel’s cargo tanks from excessive under or over pressure during loading, unloading, transportation, and storage. So, ensuring your valves are safe, functional and regulatorily compliant will naturally protect your vessel, cargo and crew.
And secondly, the shipping and maritime industry has been flooded for decades with inexpensive pure weight- or spring-activated valves known to malfunction, causing Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) leakage and risk to human life. While these valves are still operational today, testing can be a great way to demonstrate that they are not fit for their designed purpose.
What Causes Cargo Tanker Fires?
According to the IHS’s State of Maritime Safety report, there were 903 fire and explosion-related shipping incidences between 2015 and 2019. Many of these incidences occurred on bulk carrier and tanker vessels.

Whilst little data exists on the exact causes of fires onboard crude oil tanker vessels, we know from experience that malfunctioning valves are oftentimes the culprits. When a valve starts to hammer, the flow velocity decreases, allowing the flame to bypass the valve and enter the cargo tank, leading to an explosion.

What is Valve Hammering?

Pressure valve hammering is the rapid, full-stroke opening and closing of pressure-vacuum (P/V) safety valves. It often results from a valve’s inability to prevent or eliminate pressure fluctuations, surges and fires within a cargo tank ventilation system.

How do you identify valve hammering?

Identifying a hammering valve is quite simple, as it presents clear visual and auditory signs, including moderate-to-severe thrashing sounds like a hammer striking a pipe, alongside uncontrollable shakes and vibrations from the valve or surrounding pipes. These signs are a high cause for concern. Immediate action to stop the hammering is absolutely essential.

Why is valve hammering a problem?

Valve hammering compromises the structural integrity of valves and surrounding piping, potentially causing catastrophic fire or explosion-related incidences, ultimately placing your vessel, its cargo and your crew at significant risk.

The International Maritime Organization implemented MSC/Circ.677 in 1994 to prevent the manufacture and installation of valves susceptible to inadvertent hammering and subsequent damage or failure. A later 2001 revision states that all pressure valves must comply with ISO 15364:2000’s safety standards regarding pressure/vacuum valve design, manufacture and testing.

Unfortunately, the IMO’s attempts to curb valve-related hammering incidences changed very little.
The IHS Chemical Tanker Casualty database shows fire and explosion-related incidences killed 28 people between 2009 and 2015.

Malfunctioning pure weight- or spring-activated valves either fully or partially caused these explosions.
Test Beyond Expectations

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Many in our industry see a valve as just a valve – it lets off steam and ensures some level of fire safety. But we believe there’s more to it than that.

We ensure full safety onboard your vessel at every level with our high-velocity safety valves. Our valves undergo strict mandatory fire testing in accordance with the latest ISO 16852:2016 and ISO 15364:2021 international standards. These standards set stringent requirements for valves and flame arresters to prevent flame transmission in the presence of explosive gas-air or vapour-air mixtures.

What’s more, our high-velocity valves feature the patented magnetic Mini-Slip technology, which prevents the passage of flames back into the cargo tank, ensures instant set point opening and performs rapid venting without valve hammering.

But ISO compliance is just one piece of the puzzle. As an industry, we must go beyond regulations and certificates and continue innovating forward-thinking safety valves for your vessel and crew.

What is Bay Valves

First of all is Bay Valves an advanced valve solution for a demanding environment. The Bay Valves team of skilled engineers specializing in fluid dynamic are constantly striving for excellence and to improving safety, reducing cargo loss and introducing better functionality. We offer standalone valves, combined solutions based on our selection of advanced valves and we can customize products to suit your company’s specific needs in a demanding environment.

Read more about Bay Valves here.

High Pressure Valve

A leader in safety and waste reduction the Bay Valves High Pressure Valve uses advanced magnetic systems for rapid opening which improves safety and prevents hammering. High pressure reduces VOC development.

Bay Valve SuperSat

The integral part of an advanced solution to reduce evaporation loss beneficial for the environment and for your bottom line. Reduces cargo loss by VOC containment under constant monitored high pressure.

P/V Valve

The latest generation valves are developed in concordance with all relevant safety regulations and can be built and customized to fit the customer’s specific needs for individual tank or part of common solutions.

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