PortandTerminal.com, October 19, 2019
ARENDAL, NORWAY – File this article under the heading, “#No shit, Sherlock”. The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) expressed its concerns about the escalation of containership fires, calling for urgent improvement of onboard firefighting systems.
Wait, what? IUMI thinks that the solution here is the “urgent improvement of onboard firefighting systems”? They are entirely missing the point on how to fix the containership fire problem.
Let’s focus on solving the real issue here
Most containership fires are caused by misdeclared, dangerous goods. There is a clear consensus in our industry on this point and shipping lines such as Hapag-Lloyd (and others) are already taking measures to try and fix the problem.
Based on 2016 figures, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association estimates that 5.4 million containers are packed with dangerous goods (DG) every year. If just one in a thousand of those 5.4 million containers is a serious fire risk, that means that there are 5,400 potential incidents waiting to happen each year. PortandTerminal.com reports on these incidents like clock-work. Peter Tirschwell, Vice President, Maritime & Trade, at IHS MARKIT put it best.
The problem here is not onboard firefighting systems, although more is always better when it comes to fire safety. We won’t quibble with the IUMI on this point. But it’s a bit like asking your child to wear two lifevests when she already sails wearing one. The real issue is not life vests or fire safety equipment. The issue is what is causing the problem. Misdeclared, dangerous cargo.
Why it’s taken IUMI this long to make a statement on this issue is a mystery. How they have gotten the diagnosis so badly wrong is a concern.
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