The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has submitted a proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding fire regulations for container ships. Due to the increase in size and complexity of container ships over the past twenty years, the current regulations of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is considered by many to be insufficient to guarantee the safety of container transport.
The proposal contains the following recommendations:
- Fire-fighting systems must be set up in the ship in such a way as to separate fire compartments so that any fire can be insulated and prevented from spreading;
- There must be systems on board capable of cooling the container affected by fire and allowing them to burn out in a controlled manner;
- Fixed monitors must be present to allow fires to be detected and localised and must allow for an appropriate and effective response mechanism; and
- Better prevention methods must be implemented to address the rise in cargo misdeclaration which has allowed high risk cargoes to be loaded on board without appropriate warnings or safety measures.
The recommendations are a response to the fact that in the past two decades, container ship freight capacity has increased from four million TEU in 2000 to twenty million TEU in 2019. In the period between 2000 and 2015 a total of 56 fires occurred on container ships were reported with total claims exceeding one billion dollars. The proposal will be submitted to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in May.