Class society DNV GL has introduced a fire detection and firefighting measure notation to be implemented on board container ships
The notation was first applied to 23,000-TEU MSC Febe and attests to fire protection features on board that go beyond SOLAS requirements.
MSC worked with DNV GL to improve fire safety when ordering its new class of 23,000-TEU newbuilds. Both companies carried out dedicated hazard identification workshops with a focus on early fire detection, and keeping the crew out of harm’s way by enabling firefighting operations without the direct presence of crew at the fire site.
The detection equipment includes a thermal camera system covering the entire deck area to detect containers heating up, and a water jet system capable of covering the full length and width of the deck to cool or even extinguish fires developing in deck containers.
DNV GL head of container ship excellence centre Holger Jefferies said “There has been a perception in the maritime industry that the risk of fires in container ships are increasing.” Adding, “While there is on average one significant incident per year, there may be many smaller cases that go unnoticed by the public. Nevertheless, any of them could potentially cause a larger fire.”
Mr Jefferies said standard firefighting equipment on board is usually not sufficient to fight a fire spreading across several containers adding, “This way, a container fire can easily turn into a catastrophic event that is extremely difficult or even impossible to contain or extinguish."
DNV GL programme manager for container ship development Arne Schulz-Heimbeck laid out some the technological advances available to improve fire safety on board vessels. “Temperature scanning systems can be used to identify containers which are heating up relative to the surrounding ones as early as possible and take appropriate steps to contain the fire inside before it causes major damage. Powerful water jets can be installed in suitable locations from where they can cover the entire deck area and pinpoint any row of containers to cool them down or even extinguish the fire. In addition, there are water-powered, self-drilling firefighting lances that can be used to extinguish a fire inside a container (HydroPen), and other advanced fire containment devices.”
Upon delivery, the MSC vessels were awarded DNV GL’s new class notation FCS (C, HA, FD, FF, HF). The qualifiers indicate that the ships provide additional fire protection for the container cargo area (C), have undergone a hazard identification assessment (HA), and meet enhanced requirements for fire detection (FD) and firefighting systems (FF), as well as those for firefighting by container hold flooding (HF) with involvement of DNV GL’s Emergency Response Service, ERSTM.