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IUMI calls for better firefighting systems onboard bigger boxships

With the growing size of container vessels, and a recent spate of fires onboard these ships, the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has voiced concern that current firefighting provisions are insufficient.

IUMI has published today a position paper calling for better onboard firefighting systems for boxships.

Fires onboard container vessels are very real threats. Recent examples include fires on NNCI Arauco a year ago and a large fire on the MSC Daniela while transiting near Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Whilst IUMI has applauded the 2014 amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to increase the effectiveness of firefighting, the association believes more should be done.

Helle Hammer, IUMI political forum chair said: “Recent amendments to 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; and cargo is stored differently. We believe the mode of firefighting set out in SOLAS is not suitable for a modern containership.”

IUMI supports as best practice a proposal presented by the German Insurance Association (GDV) that sets out an improved concept for firefighting facilities on board a containership.

Uwe-Peter Schieder, marine and loss prevention, GDV, explained: “We suggest creating individual fire compartments below deck to prevent fire from spreading. These compartments would be fitted with fixed CO2 and water-based firefighting systems. Boundary structures would also be fitted above deck to align with the water-cooled bulkheads below and also fitted with fixed fire-fighting systems. In addition, we also recommend the installation of enhanced fire detection systems.”

IUMI has been meeting this week in Tokyo.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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