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Fortunately, ship fires are rare, but on the other hand often serious for both crew, vessel, cargo and the maritime environment.

UFDS notes with satisfaction the announcement from measuring manufacturer Green Instruments regarding the conclusion of an agreement with a large Chinese shipyard that places oil mist detectors on newly built ships for one of the yard's major customers.

Fires are one of the last things the crew of a ship wants to face. Whether on the high seas or in port, the development of fire on a vessel can have serious consequences for both crew members and cargo or the ship itself, as well as the marine environment.

But many ship fires can be avoided if the vessels have measuring equipment installed and able to sound the alarm before the fires occur. The Danish Shipowners’ Accident Insurance Association would like to see this type of preventive installation extended to as many vessels as possible, not least among the Danish-flagged vessels operated by our members.

Against this background, we are pleased with the announcement from the North Jutland instrument manufacturer Green Instruments, which has entered into a major agreement with Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in China to supply equipment to one of the shipyard's major customers that significantly minimizes the risk of fires on ships.

The equipment detects oil mist and gases in, for example, an engine room that the crews can neither see nor smell. This allows for the prevention of a situation from developing into a fire, as well as averting poisoning damage and the consequential damage that can occur.

»In general, fortunately, we only see very few fire-related injuries, but when ship fires do occur, they often come with severe consequences for the affected seafarers. In addition to the physical injuries, we also see seafarers experiencing great psychological discomfort, and if this is not treated and followed up on as soon as possible, it can result in the seafarers being left with such great consequences that they may never get back out,« says director of UFDS, Jacob Munch.

In case of fire-related injuries, UFDS naturally acts proactively and contacts the injured person to ask about nuisances and subsequently follow up on the situation allowing the injured person to get through the process as best – and fast – as possible.

A big leap forward for safety

Morten Brandborg, CEO of Green Instruments, tells UFDS that they see the agreement, which is the first of its kind with an Asian shipyard, as a step towards creating more knowledge about fire prevention equipment in general.

»We can see that interest in oil mist detection is increasing because several shipping companies have become aware that they can significantly increase safety at sea by means of a very modest investment,« Morten Brandborg says.

Official figures from the industry show that 163 ships in the world fleet experience engine room fires on an annual basis, but the number is likely to be significantly higher – probably around 500. In addition, there are engine room fires on ships that experience this type of fire more than once.

»The current legislation on fire detection on ships is based on sounding the alarm when a fire is already underway, but this type of equipment can make alert the crew before a fire occurs. Of course, we think this is a big leap forward for the safety of seafarers, as well as vessels and the environment,« Master of Laws with UFDS, Frederik Nielsen, comments.

The deployment of oil mist detectors is also high on the priority list of the international organization OCIMF (Oil Companies International Marine Forum), which is the leading body on safety in the maritime industry.

Through an initiative called SIRE (Ship Inspection Report Programme) OCIMF tries to prevent damage to people and the environment, and the organization recommends that ships have oil mist detectors and other types of safety equipment on board because the equipment significantly reduces the risk of accidents.

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The Danish Shipowners’ Accident Insurance Association (UFDS)