EU-funded industry consortium to tackle improving ro-ro fire safety

Fire safety practice. Credit: Joachim Affeldt

An industry consortium led by the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), comprising 26 partners from 13 EU member states, will closely examine roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) fire risks and mitigation methods with the aim of robustly enhancing ro-ro ship fire protection on a sustainable, practical, and long-term perspective, and to incite change in current international maritime regulations surrounding ro-ro fire safety.

The EUR12.2 million (USD13.5 million) EU-funded Legislative Assessment for Safety Hazards of Fire and Innovations in Ro-ro ship Environment (LASH FIRE) consortium commenced in September 2019 and will run for a duration of four years.

The LASH FIRE consortium will develop and demonstrate new procedures and technical innovations that enhance ro-ro ship fire safety, accounting for current and future challenges. The objectives and technical content of the project are based on critical aspects pointed out by a European group of experts assembled by the European Maritime Safety Agency, the ongoing reformation of international regulations within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and on significant experience collected from ro-ro ship operators.

The project will make use of the great potential in using new and advancing technologies and procedures, which will be assessed for feasibility, performance validation, and demonstration with help of the involved ship operators and yards. Solutions developed in the project will lead to regulatory proposals, which will be assessed and validated according to the IMO Formal Safety Assessment methodology.

LASH FIRE will provide a basis for the revision of international maritime regulations and will give European industry knowledge to build safer and more competitive ships for sustainable transport.

Franz Evegren from RISE, project co-ordinator of LASH FIRE, said that to achieve a significant reduction in the occurrence of fires on ro-ro passenger (ro-pax) ships, general ro-ro cargo ships, and pure car truck carriers (PCTCs), the consortium will increase the proportion of fires detected and controlled at an early stage and will improve the independent fire management capabilities on board.

In turn, this will reduce the significant cost of these fires to society, not least the number of fatalities, which is expected to be reduced to about half, he added. In the decade between 2006 and 2015, 32 serious ro-ro space fires on ro-pax ships were reported.