IUMI urges to enhance firefighting systems on board container ships


The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has unveiled a position paper urging improvements to firefighting systems on container vessels.

The call has been made following a series of fires that broke out on board several container ships, which exposed the inefficiency of the existing on-board firefighting provisions, noted IUMI.  

In September last year, a fire started on board a 20ft equivalent unit (TEU) vessel named NNCI Arauco during welding operations in Hamburg, Germany.

The MSC Flaminia also experienced a fire in July 2012, which resulted in three fatalities.

In November 2002, a fire onboard Hanjin Pennsylvania claimed the lives of two crew members and resulted in a constructive total loss.

"The legal requirements prescribed by SOLAS were originally developed for fires on board general cargo vessels and these ships are structurally very different."

IUMI Political Forum chair Helle Hammer said: “Recent amendments to International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) are a move in the right direction but they do not go far enough.

“The legal requirements prescribed by SOLAS were originally developed for fires on board general cargo vessels and these ships are structurally very different to a container vessel.

“We believe the mode of firefighting set out in SOLAS is not suitable for a modern containership.”

IUMI has supported a proposal from German insurance association GDV that suggests the creation of individual fire compartments below the vessel deck to prevent fire from spreading. These compartments should be equipped with fixed carbon dioxide and water-based firefighting systems.


Image: Fire incident on board a container vessel. Photo: courtesy of International Union of Marine Insurance.