February 10 - The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has published a position piece voicing its concerns about fires on ro-ro vehicles and offered recommendations on how to prevent and tackle fires onboard.

According to the IUMI, the rate of fires onboard ro-ro vessels are twice the level of fires onboard other vessels. This, the organisation claims, is largely due to electrical fires for which reefer units, powered by either electrical cable or a dedicated diesel unit, are the single most frequent source.

The IUMI states that electrical equipment onboard, vehicle cabs and vehicle engines have also been identified as the source of several of the fire casualties, whilst also identifying undeclared or misdeclared cargo as notable fire hazards.

Although rumoured to be frequent sources of fires, stowaways and passengers/drivers cooking food have not been identified as the cause in any casualties investigated by the IUMI.

The IUMI stresses the importance of crew training and continuous supervision of the areas which are most likely to cause the fires.

The electrical wiring of the vessel itself has also been identified as a source of fires and the IUMI suggests that, in particular for older ferries, this could be an area for further consideration by regulators, operators and classification societies to ensure up-to-date verification of proper wiring.