UK regulations for emergency and life-saving equipment on ships will vary according to certain factors. But, some minimum standards apply to the life-saving and fire-fighting equipment that ships must carry.
The ship's crew need to be familiar with the safe use of emergency equipment (e.g. lifejackets). Use this guide to check which emergency appliances must be serviced and tested at an approved service station.
As a rule, the size and the type of ship (and where the vessel operates) will determine which requirements to follow.
Standard emergency and life-saving equipment on ships at sea includes:
Buoyancy apparatus, lifejackets, and attachments
Emergency alarm systems and public address systems
Lifeboats, liferafts, and lifebuoys
Marine evacuation systems
Two-way VHF radiotelephone sets
Note: There are certain types of emergency and life saving equipment that ALL ships must carry (or have fitted). These appliances must meet the minimum standards on servicing and testing.
MSN 1666 (M) the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection) Regulations 1998: Fixed fire detection alarm and extinguishing systems
Fixed Gas Fire-extinguishing Systems
MGN 389 (M+F) Operating Instructions and Signage for Fixed Gas Fire-Extinguishing Systems
MGN 354 (M+F) ‘Fishing and Small Vessels - Safe Operation of Fixed CO2 Gas Fire Extinguishing Systems
Halon fire-fighting systems
MGN 258 (M+F) Decommissioning of Halon systems
Note: The use of fire fighting equipment containing halons is now illegal in United Kingdom. The guide explains the process of phasing out halon fire-fighting systems.
Safe Use of Emergency Equipment
All emergency life saving equipment on ships must be safe to use. You must also ensure the crew know how to use it properly. Download emergency equipment regulations and read any associated amendments:
All lifejackets need to be inspected on a regular basis. See individual manufacturer's instructions for further information on the processes.
MGN 254 (M+F) Guidance to Users of Inflatable Lifejackets
Marine Guidance Note (MGN) 396 (M+F) Compatibility of Life-Saving Equipment
Marine Evacuation Systems (MESs)
Passengers can use an inflatable slide or escape chute to gain access into liferafts from the ship. Vessels with an MES need to have crew properly trained in how to use them.
Marine Guidance Notice (MGN) 273 (M) Operational Issues relating to MES
Liferafts and Hydrostatic Release Units (HRUs)
MGN 343 (M+F) HRU - Stowage and Float Free Arrangements for Inflatable Liferafts
Fuels and Lubricating Oils in Lifeboat Engines
All fuels and lubricating oils used in lifeboat engines must be safe to use in low temperatures.
MGN 34 (M+F) - Lifeboat engines and other compression ignition engines used in an emergency
All retro-reflective material needs checking at regular intervals to ensure it is effective.
MGN 105 (M+F) use and fitting of retro-reflective material on life saving appliances
Servicing and Testing of Emergency Equipment
Life Saving Appliance Testing
Certain kinds of marine life saving appliances and equipment needs to be serviced at regular intervals at an approved service station. The list includes:
Inflatable liferafts and boats
Hydrostatic Release Units (HRUs)
Fast rescue boats
The MCA website lists the details of independent lifeboat servicing and testing organisations and the details of manufacturers of life-saving appliances.
023 8032 9100
Monday to Sunday 24 hours a day.
Note: The site also lists the current safety alerts for technical matters, known design faults, and for fake safety equipment. Another section provides further guidance on health and safety on ships while at sea.
Emergency and Life Saving Equipment on Ships in United Kingdom