Bureau Veritas (BV) has published additional class notations detailing measures aimed at managing container ship fires. The ‘Enhanced cargo fire protection for container ships’ (ECFP), which entered into force from 1 January 2020, comes in response to an alarming number of fire incidents on board very large container ships in recent years.
In developing the new standards, BV initiated a cross-industry working group consisting of container ship operators CMA CGM and COSCO Shipping, shipyards/designers CSSC and MARIC, the Marseille Naval Fire Battalion, salvagers Smit and TMC Marine, as well as the French and Italian maritime authorities. The group used the HAZID approach to scrutinise every step of a fire incident before developing what BV calls risk control measures (RCMs).
Gijsbert de Jong, BV’s marine marketing and sales director, explains: “We started with fire prevention and ignition sources, looking at detection, manual and fixed firefighting, and containment and protection of the cargo. We also thought about what you should do if everything fails. How do you make sure people can still evacuate?
“We ranked the RCMs in terms of their technical effectiveness, ease of implementation and cost considerations. The best scoring RCMs were then put forward for the enhanced regulations,” he adds.
These RCMs include: improved firefighting capabilities on deck, centralised ventilation control for cargo holds to minimise the air that can reach the holds in a fire incident, improved firefighting and fire containment in the holds (using water spraying and intentional flooding), better protection of the accommodation block and LSAs, and improved fire detection using still-maturing technologies such as thermal imaging and infra-red.
The new notations have three levels. The first, ECFP-1, covers portable equipment and arrangement that can be easily retrofitted. ECFP-2 includes additional arrangements such as a fire detection system, water supply and flooding system. The highest standard, ECFP-3, will also cover the incorporation of innovative technologies to goal-based standards.
BV says assessment of these technologies will form the basis of further consultation involving IMO, IACS, marine insurers and flag states.