Container ship safety

Enhancing fire safety for container ships

Mar. 26 2020 - 3 min

Building on research and feedback from the field, Bureau Veritas is helping set modern fire safety standards for container ships.

Bureau Veritas recently wrapped up a cross-industry working group to address the problem of cargo fires in container ships. The effort brought together a diverse collection of ship owners and operators, shipyards, designers and maritime firefighters, maritime authorities, as well as salvage and accident investigation experts of TMC Marine.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of container ship’s critical areas of concern, the working group identified the common stages of managing a fire incident, ranging from prevention/ignition through containment to evacuation. Building on this structured approach, the working group developed relevant safety measures and risk control measures (RCM) that go beyond existing regulations.

The team then evaluated the suggested RCMs in terms of effectiveness and ease of implementation, working to identify the most valuable measures from a cost-benefit standpoint. One high-scoring RCM aims to improve the available equipment for early on-board firefighting. These include supplementary portable equipment, compressors, high-reaching water mist lances and additional detection provisions, among others. Centralized ventilation control and intentional flooding of cargo holds were also considered viable fire-fighting solutions.

Developing a new class notation

The group’s work has culminated in the new Bureau Veritas class notation ECFP, introduced in January 2020. The notation has three applicable levels:

  • ECFP-1: portable equipment and arrangements, also suitable for retrofits and multi-purpose ships equipped for carriage of containers
  • ECFP-2: ECFP-1 plus additional equipment, systems and arrangements based on standard technologies
  • ECFP-3: ECFP-2 plus additional equipment, systems and arrangements based on innovative technologies

Strengthened by this success, the working group now aims to continue collaborating on cross-industry projects and the assessment of new technologies. The group’s ultimate goal is to bring its expertise to the international shipping community, in order to support the development of a uniform regulatory framework.

This will ensure adequate fire safety measures for container ships, and help ship owners address this important subject.