The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has released new recommendations for the safe transportation of electric vehicles (EVs) on ships. The move comes in response to concerns within the shipping community about the risk of fires breaking out on car carriers and roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessels. The recommendations aim to dispel the belief that EV fires are more dangerous than those involving conventional vehicles. The IUMI states that there are actually fewer fires from EVs compared to conventional vehicles when driven over the same distance. However, EV battery fires have a higher risk of re-ignition and are harder to extinguish due to thermal runaway.
The paper from the IUMI also highlights the specific challenges faced by different types of vessels. RoRo vessels, which store cars on open decks, pose a greater fire-fighting challenge due to increased air flow. On the other hand, pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs) carry tightly packed vehicles, making emergency access difficult and allowing fires to spread more rapidly. The recommendations include measures such as early fire detection systems, drencher and CO2 extinguishing systems, and clear cargo policies.
The International Maritime Organization’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment will begin evaluating the adequacy of fire protection arrangements for ships carrying new energy vehicles in March 2024. The IUMI plans to continue contributing to the safety debate and improve safety requirements for the transportation of alternative fuel vehicles on board vessels.