North P&I Club issues new advice on reducing risk from Ro-Ro vessel fires


UK-based marine insurer North P&I Club has released a new set of guidelines for roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels and car carriers to prevent, detect and fight fires.

The new ten-page loss prevention briefing details the risks of fires on board Ro-Ro and car carriers, which are twice as likely to catch fire as other types of ships.

The briefing also outlines a comprehensive series of recommendations covering training, maintenance, vigilance, reaction and procedures in case of outbursts of fire on Ro-Ro vessels.

North P&I Club deputy loss prevention director Colin Gillespie said: “We continue to see fires developing on Ro-Ro vessels that can quickly get out of control, putting lives at risk as well as causing significant damage to the vessel and cargo.

“As in every incident where fires are involved, early detection is key.

"Modern fire-detection systems are capable of identifying the location of smoke and fire; it is important that the crew understand these systems and that alarms are properly investigated."

“Modern, well-maintained fire-detection systems are capable of identifying the location of smoke and fire to a reasonable degree of accuracy. It is important that the crew understand these systems and that alarms are properly investigated.”

The company also noted that vehicle fires collectively account for a large percentage of fires, but also that there are different sources of ignition.  

Electrical fires on car carrier vehicles have become a more usual phenomenon in recent years due to the growing use of sophisticated electronics, particularly in hybrid and electric cars.

Other sources such as hot engines, discarded cigarettes and fuel leaks have also been identified as frequent causes of fire on car carrier vessels.

North P&I Club states that once detected, a fire can to be contained by properly closing all ventilators, especially in cases where a carbon dioxide suppression system is in use.