London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Port of London 1912

Report for the year ended 31st December 1912 of the Medical Officer of Health for the Port of London

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"The proper ventilation of every space on a vessel appropriated to the officers and
crew is perhaps the most important point a Surveyor has to consider and decide upon
in connection with crew space inspection." These words are taken from the Instructions
issued by the Board of Trade as to the Survey of Master's and Crew Spaces, which
also provide that "there should not be less than two ventilators, one serving as an inlet for
the admission of fresh air and the other as an outlet for the escape of impure air, whether
the accommodation consists of forecastle, poop, round house, side house, or cabins."
"Wherever practicable, all cabins should have an efficient ventilator fitted in
the deck above them." In the majority of cases this is not considered practicable, and
so many cabins are not provided with ventilators.
"Where a forecastle or deck-house is divided by a fore and aft bulkhead or close
partition, care must be taken that the ventilation of each space is complete in itself."
The forecastles of ships are generally divided into two spaces for the accommodation of
seamen and firemen respectively, but it is quite the exception to find that the ventilation
of each space is complete in itself. The practice is to put one ventilator in each space
and to leave a few small openings at the top of the partition, which is considered
technically to make the crew's quarters into one space.
"Skylights made to open cannot be relied upon as efficient ventilators
available under all conditions of the weather, and they should not be accepted in the place
of the ventilators ordinarily required."
I have selected some instances met with of defective ventilation and give below
notes of the same.
The s.s. "-," was inspected on the 29th December, 1904. The
ventilators in the sailors and firemen's quarters were being used for the passage of stove
funnels. This was brought to the notice of the owners, and of the Board of Trade. An
inspection was made by the Surveyor of the Board, and I received a communication from
them as follows:—
"10th January, 1908.
"With reference to your letter of the 6th ultimo, I am now informed by the
Board that after inspection of this vessel's crew spaces at a port in the North, they
are satisfied with the ventilation as to amount, and the arrangement for stove
funnels. The bulkhead in the middle line being open to a certain extent, the
spaces are considered for ventilation as one."
The vessel subsequently arrived in this Port on the 27th June, 1912, and was
personally inspected by me. I found in the crew's quarters forward, each space
ventilated by one ventilator which passed through a mooring bitt, and there was evidence
of this having been used for the passage of the stove funnel. The other ventilator was
permanently closed with wood painted over, and the internal opening was situated
immediately over a bunk, whilst the small "certain" extent of opening in the bulkhead
referred to in the letter, was found closed with wood.