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Research project to halve fatalities on car ferries

Between 2006 and 2015, there were 32 serious fires on roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ferries. The newly-started, EU-funded research project LASH FIRE, which is being coordinated by RISE, will now minimise the fire risks and effects of fires on ro-ro ferries. And since operators from the entire value chain are involved in the project, the implementation period will be short and it is hoped that effects will be realised quickly.

LASH FIRE (Legislative Assessment for Safety Hazards of Fire and Innovations in Ro-Ro ship Environment) is a recently started H2020 research project funded by the EU with 26 operators from industry, research institutes, universities, supervisory authorities and trade associations in 13 EU Member States. The project is being coordinated by RISE, which has extensive experience in fire safety work on ships and a wide network within the area. The project aims to reduce the risk of fire and the effects of fires on ro-ro ferries.

The project will raise the lowest level globally

The work being done in LASH FIRE serves as a basis for the revision of international maritime regulations on fire protection, and is providing European industrial knowledge in order to build safer and more competitive vessels for a sustainable transport sector.

– “LASH FIRE will increase fire safety on ro-ro ferries worldwide as the project will improve the regulations of the International Maritime Organizations (IMO),” says Maria Hjohlman, Senior Project Manager in Fire Protection at RISE. “Generally speaking, Swedish ferries meet and exceed IMO’s current requirements, but the new regulations will raise the lowest level, which will also affect Swedish ferries.”  

Most fires start in the vehicle hold

Most fires start in the vehicle hold

Fires on ro-ro ferries can have dire consequences for passengers and crewmembers. Between 2006 and 2015, there were 32 serious fires on ro-ro ferries.

– “Most fires start in the vehicle hold, and this is what we are focusing our research on,” says Hjohlman.

Six focus areas have been identified for the LASH FIRE project. The project aims to identify tools for more effective fire management in all the stages of a fire, improve safety design, identify flammable vehicles and provide options for automatic monitoring, develop more effective and more reliable fire warning systems, make extinguishing more efficient, and inhibit fire and smoke propagation.

– “Something particularly interesting about this project is that it covers everything. We start with the shortcomings and critical aspects identified on ro-ro ferries over the last few years and develop solutions, technological innovations, and best practice processes for loading the ferry or in the event of fire, for example. We then evaluate the different solutions based on costs and impact on the environment and staff, and weigh this against the lower risk of lost ships, cargo and human lives,” says Hjohlman.

The solutions will lead to proposals for regulation amendments

Several of those involved in the project are representatives of IMO, and the reference group comprises government agencies, shipping companies and others.

– “Solutions developed in the project will lead to proposals for regulation amendments, and they will have already been assessed and validated in accordance with IMO’s methods for amending regulations. If the solutions are adopted, the time until the solutions are available on the market will be short, since the entire value chain is involved in the project,” concludes Hjohlman.

Published: 2020-02-19

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Maria Hjohlman

Senior projektledare

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