Swedish Club produces handbook on cargo fires

Swedish Club, in conjunction with Burgoynes, have produced a handbook – Fire! A guide to the causes and prevention of cargo fires.

Burgoynes is an international partnership specialising in the investigation of incidents including fires, explosions, engineering and materials failures, and chemical and contamination problems. The company provides scientific and engineering advice to the marine and land-based legal, insurance and commercial sectors.

Swedish Club noted that cargo fires occur so infrequently that awareness of the risk could “slip under the radar”. But it noted that such an incident on board a vessel could have disastrous consequences. With the average cost of a cargo fire at several million US dollars, cargo fires were not a risk to be overlooked.

The new handbook offers loss prevention advice on a number of incidents. It focuses specifically on self-heating cargoes, but also examining those vessel fires caused by other sources, such as cargo hold lights, fumigation, movement of cargo and smoking and hot work.

The handbook also highlights how different vessel types fare when the frequency of cargo fires was compared. Tanker figures were found to be relatively low, a testament to the tight regulation and safety culture that exists in this industry. On the other hand ro-ro figures were surprisingly high, due to the heterogeneous nature of the cargo they carry.

Joakim Enström, Loss Prevention Officer at the Club, noted that “when a fire breaks out on board a vessel there is no fire service ready to assist in extinguishing it – that is up to the crew themselves”.