Oil Rig Fire Attorneys
Fires on Offshore Platforms & Vessels
Fires and explosions are among the most imminent threats to oil rig workers. Not only is the offshore drilling platform far from help, but the fire is surrounded by a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fuel. If the fire comes into contact with gas or liquid fuel, an ignition could cause an explosion that could send the entire oil rig to the bottom of the ocean.
When oil rig explosions injure workers and claim lives, our team at Arnold & Itkin stands ready to help crew members and their families get the answers they need. We are the nation’s leading maritime law firm and have handled the biggest cases in the field, such as representing one-third of the Deepwater Horizon crew after the rig caught fire and exploded in April 2010. If you were injured or lost someone you love in an offshore oil rig fire, we are standing by to help.
The Risk of Fire on Offshore Oil Rigs
Due to the large amounts of oil drilled for and stored on offshore oil rigs and platforms, fire is one of the deadliest threats to the safety of those on board. Surrounded by water tens or even hundreds of miles from shore, evacuation is challenging, and jumping into the sea can prove just as deadly as the fire itself. If a fire triggers an explosion, the lives of everyone on the rig may be at risk.
Incidents like the West Delta 32 and Deepwater Horizon explosions are tragic examples of what can happen when a fire breaks out on a platform. On the West Delta 32, a rig owned by Black Elk Energy, a fire broke out during welding operations. 3 workers were killed, and numerous others were injured. When the Deepwater Horizon burned and sank, it claimed 11 workers’ lives and caused the biggest accidental oil spill in history: 134 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.
These serve as a warning to owners and employers to maintain strict safety measures. In these incidents, time is crucial. Deepwater Horizon crew members stated that they had only five minutes to escape when the alarm was sounded.
Causes of Oil Rig Fires
Numerous factors present fire risks on oil rigs. These include:
- Welding, Grinding, and Cutting: These activities often involve open flames or sparks, which can ignite in the presence of flammable materials. It's essential that employees are well-trained in safely using these tools, and that appropriate fire prevention measures, such as spark arrestors and fire blankets, are in place.
- Incorrect Handling of Oil and Gas: Mishandling oil or gas, whether due to procedural errors, negligence, or lack of training, can easily lead to fires. Employers must be vigilant and adhere strictly to safety protocols.
- Electrical Fires: Damaged electrical wires or cords can spark and ignite fires, particularly in the presence of oil and gas vapors. Using only explosion-proof and appropriately rated electrical devices on the platform is crucial. Additionally, tools should be used only as intended to avoid overheating or electrical short circuits.
- Cooking/Kitchen Fires: Many oil rigs have onboard kitchens, and fires in these areas can quickly spread. Ensuring kitchen staff are trained in fire safety and properly maintaining kitchen equipment are key preventative measures.
- Mechanical and Equipment Failure: Oil rigs rely on a variety of mechanical systems and equipment, which can overheat or malfunction, leading to fires. Regular maintenance and inspection of equipment are critical.
- Chemical Reactions: Certain chemicals used in drilling operations can react violently under specific conditions, leading to fires or explosions. Proper storage, handling, and understanding of these chemicals are essential.
- Fuel and Chemical Spills: Spills of oil, gas, or other chemicals can create a fire hazard, especially in the confined spaces of an oil rig. Immediate containment and clean-up procedures must be in place to handle spills effectively.
These risks are known and recognized; it is up to rig owners and operators to maintain seaworthy vessels, train crews, and enforce safety standards to minimize the risks. They should also implement robust fire detection, prevention, and response systems as well as carry out regular drills and emergency response exercises, so the crew is prepared to handle fire scenarios. When oil and gas companies shirk these responsibilities, they should be held accountable.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a fire while on board an offshore drilling platform, you should consider getting in touch with a member of our legal team. At Arnold & Itkin, we have won more than $20 billion for our clients. By involving our oil rig fire lawyers, you can have peace of mind knowing your claim will be examined from every angle by experienced professionals who care about the outcome and your future.
To learn more, call our office at any time: (888) 346-5024. Let's take the first step toward your recovery.