With the MCA currently concluding on an overhaul of its Large Yacht Code there will be some significant changes introduced that will have a major impact on soft furnishing design considerations for both New Build and existing vessels. The impending changes will tighten up on a number of areas in relation to the Fire Retardant certification from the frequency of assessment to the quality of post manufacturing treatment.
The new code which is likely to come into effect during July 2012 will mean that all of those involved in the selection of materials through to those responsible for certification will need to be aware of the potential impact on the vessel approval status.
This has come about due to several instances of companies believing they are MCA compliant but are only able to produce credentials of laboratory test certificates based on British Standards (BS) not IMO standards. Many owners are misled into believing the fire certificate issued by the treatment company is valid and are shocked to have them rejected by surveyors and then the inconvenience and time consuming process of having to arrange retreatment at additional cost.
The new regulations will mean that a lot of materials currently being used for new yachts or for refits will not meet the FR criteria after undergoing certain cleaning regimes. There will also be an impact on the application services market as many of the products currently being used for in situ fabric treatment will not satisfy the new guidelines. There will also be a requirement for application teams to include a textile expert to assess the fabrics onboard prior to treatment to ensure the application process meets the new guidelines.
In fact the emphasis of the new regulations is aligned to textile experience in treating fabrics not a catch-all blanket approach in which the service provider may claim that unless proven otherwise every textile on board needs treatment when many are inherently flame retardant or organically intumescent. When assessed correctly this can mean considerable savings for the boat owner.
Some service providers claim washability of their product is possible but current products containing salt based phosphates by definition will dilute their fire retardant properties immediately upon contact with water. Peter Worthy, CEO of Yacht Protect Services, who have been major contributors in the consultation process, says that they are fully supportive of the MCA actions and believe that they can only help in the drive to improve maritime safety. “A number of companies will be forced to review their strategy to embrace the changes. This will include interior designers, after sales treatment companies, Skippers and others responsible for certification. With our background in textiles we understand the issues and are well prepared for the changes. We doubt that others are in the same position.”