DBI is working to develop the fire safety strategies for present and future container vessels

Published: 08.12.22

DBI is being involved in investigating fire risks and fire safety solutions for container ships. This work will form the basis of future regulations in the area.

In the future, as the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) seeks to ensure fire safety on container ships, the EU will be involved in the work in the form of the EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency). EMSA’s approach to this area will be based on a report prepared by a consortium led by DBI. DBI has won the tender for the EU contract, which goes under the name of CARGOSAFE.

“The IMO is aware of the issue of fire safety on container ships, and knows that something needs to be done about it,” says Anders Viborg Kristensen, project manager at DBI and head of CARGOSAFE, who goes on to explain:

“There are many challenges in this area. On the one hand, there is very little focus on container ships as a type of vessel in the IMO system with associated safety rules, which means that regulation is lacking. And on the other hand, ships have become much bigger in recent years, without the regulations having matched this growth to the same extent. And, last but not least, the cargo may be incorrectly or inadequately declared, making the potential consequences and extent of a fire significantly greater.”

Identifying problems and solutions

The IMO Safety Committee has therefore announced that they intend to work on fire safety on container ships, with the result that EMSA and the EU Commission are allocating funds to CARGOSAFE, which will identify fire risks on container ships and recommend technical solutions that can minimise the risks. The report will provide base data for EMSA, which is helping negotiate the solutions at the IMO. DBI is the main consultant in the consortium that has won the tender, which also includes Bureau Veritas, RISE, SDU and Odense Maritime Technology.

The first task was to identify all fire risks on container ships. DBI has done this with a workshop attended by a number of different parties from the industry, including three of the biggest container shipping companies, Maersk, Evergreen and CMA-CGM, the insurance companies SKULD and Codan, three European Member States Denmark, Germany and France, as well as the shipping organisations Danish Shipping and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

Aims to provide practical recommendations

The next phase was a regular, comprehensive risk analysis in accordance with the IMO’s very thorough and exhaustive approach.

“With the risk analysis, we need to understand the reasons for every single risk and its consequences in the different kinds of container ships. Based on the analysis, the consortium has to find risk-mitigating technical solutions in the areas of prevention, detection, decision, containment and fire-fighting,” says Anders Viborg Kristensen, adding:

“DBI has extensive experience of investigating different technologies and of modelling and simulation, and we have used these tools to evaluate different solutions.”

Using a cost-benefit analysis, the effect of each solution is being studied closely, which should ultimately result in practical recommendations for decision-makers in the area – in the first instance, EMSA, and then the IMO.

Scientific and impartial approach

CARGOSAFE is not a research project, but a contract awarded through a tender from the EU. And with a budget totalling EUR 455,000 (DKK 3.3 million), this is by far the biggest tender DBI has ever won – even in competition with a number of other consortia from across the EU.

“This sees DBI moving into a new league, and you’d normally see these kinds of contracts being awarded to the large, multinational classification companies. But the project’s focus on fire safety, and DBI’s scientific and impartial approach to the area, make us ideal for the project,” says Carsten Møller, business developer at DBI.

CARGOSAFE builds further on DBI’s previous projects in the maritime area, including risk assessments and technological evaluation, in which DBI has always included technologies and experience from areas other than the maritime sector.

“It’s no coincidence that EMSA is choosing DBI as a supplier for CARGOSAFE. It’s tremendous recognition of DBI’s efforts over many years and work in the maritime area,” says Carsten Møller.

Great international significance for DBI

In addition to being proof of DBI’s maritime competencies and a major step up for DBI in the maritime area, the project also means that DBI is on the radar in the maritime industry, both in Europe and worldwide.

“CARGOSAFE will be the documentation that forms the basis of the fire safety regulations of the future on container ships. We must develop a fire strategy for container ships that lasts. The project will make many people in Europe aware of DBI and what we can do in Denmark, and the results will be presented to all 178 maritime nations around the world at the IMO. In that respect, the project is of great value to DBI,” says Alexander Kleiman, Maritime R&D Project Manager at DBI.


CARGOSAFE is a contract awarded through a tender from the EU Commission and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The aim is to investigate the market for cost-effective technical solutions that reduce the risk and cost in connection with fires on container ships. The project will result in a number of recommendations to the authorities responsible. CARGOSAFE will form the basis of EMSA’s attitude and approach to the area of fire safety on container ships in connection with negotiations in the IMO.

A consortium led by DBI, and also featuring Bureau Veritas, RISE, SDU and Odense Maritime Technology, was awarded the contract. The project started in January 2022 and will be running for 60 weeks. The total budget is 455,000 euros.

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Anders V. Kristensen
Project Manager

+45 50 80 78 09