New guidelines on containership firefighting published

Burning cargo containers aboard the merchant cargo vessel Sea Land Mariner in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Airman Daniel D. Stokes, U.S. Navy.

New guidelines have been published addressing the issue of cargo fires in container ships by using best practice principles to make vessels safer, it was announced by classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) at a briefing on 21 January, in London.

The guidelines were developed through comprehensive analysis that was carried out on cargo fire incidents on container ships, explained Gijsbert de Jong, marine marketing & sales management director BV, speaking at the briefing. The relevant safety and risk control measures (RCMs) were then identified and put forward to enhance the development of the classification rules, considering both newbuilds and existing ships.

The proposed RCMs that feature in the guidelines include:

  • Improved firefighting capabilities on deck with water monitors
  • Centralised ventilation control for cargo holds
  • Improved equipment for early onboard firefighting, high-reaching water mist lance, air compressor, and more firefighting clothing
  • Improved firefighting and fire containment in cargo holds
  • Increased protection of accommodation block and LSA, water-spray self-protection, and ventilation design
  • Fire detection appliances on deck and in cargo holds

The guidelines, part of NR467 – Rules for classification of steel ships, were put together as part of a cross-industry working group. The group was made up of 16 participants; including ship owners/operators, shipyards and designers, maritime firefighters, salvage experts and maritime authorities. The new guidelines can be found on the BV website.