IUMI acts on preventing fires on container vessels

By Lars Lange, IUMI Secretary General

A number of container ship fires have already happened in early 2019. Yantian Express, APL Vancouver, Grande America, E.R. Kobe, KMTC Hong Kong. All these incidents confirmed IUMI’s intention to actively address the avoidance of container ship fires. As highlighted in IUMI’s 2017 Position Paper a number of issues have to be tackled: the misdeclaration or non-declaration of dangerous goods leads to mistreatment of inflammable goods on board; detection of fires on-board as well as under deck has to be improved; CO2 fire extinguishing in the holds has proven ineffective; and fire-fighting equipment on deck is, even after the 2016 SOLAS amendment, far from being sufficient.


IUMI took the opportunity during the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 101 meeting in June 2019 to raise its concerns and ideas in a presentation to the attendees. IUMI received confirmation from the Council of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) that it supports IUMI’s initiative with its technical expertise. IUMI, throughout 2019, has been in constant dialogue with various flag states with the aim to introduce this topic to the IMO in 2020. A proposal for a “new output” on the agenda of the MSC 102 is in the drafting process in cooperation with the German IUMI member association GDV.


IUMI will be involved in a two-day workshop with key stakeholders in October 2019 that has been organised by Gard AS in Norway. IUMI will also have the opportunity to introduce the topic during this year’s “Tripartite” meeting of top-level representatives of shipowners, shipbuilders and class in October 2019 in Tokyo. In addition, IUMI has started, and will continue, to talk bilaterally to other maritime stakeholders and associations in order to achieve understanding and support.


IUMI views the improvement of fire-prevention on container vessels as a topic of common interest in the maritime industry. Legislation and objectives to achieve a broad consensus for measures to be taken to improve the situation should proceed as quickly as possible.