MSC " Flaminia"

MSC "Flaminia" sees use of innovative technology - Cold Cut System "Cobra", Fognails and encapsulation agent F-500 deployed

Without the intention of forestalling the official German investigation report, this short field report will depict and evaluate the use of new and innovative firefighting techniques and -agents. It will focus on cargo vessels, especially fires within containers.

The author is a fire protection expert, -surveyor and -advisor. He aims to inform about the performance of the firefighting equipment and -agents experienced during his operation on board of the MSC "Flamina".

Subsequently, the defensive measures that were taken will be described and evaluated in regard to their efficiency and technical efforts.

The Report interns only the part of the firefighting carried out in Wilhelmshaven. (Vessel safe moored on the quay)

Measures of the local fire brigade

After the arrival of the MSC "Flaminia" in Wilhelmshaven, the responsibility over the vessel was handed over from the Special Forces SMIT and Falck to the fire department of Wilhelmshaven. Their task was to further observe the ship, especially the temperatures inside the affected areas of hold number 3 and 7.

Inside hold number 7, where containers with cellulose and paper were stored, temperatures started to rise repeatedly up to the formation of open flames due to active glowing embers.
This has been reported in the press in detail.

The excessive use of heavy foams led to a temporary cooling down of the container walls for a while. This effect, however, immediately ceased after the foam disintegrated and the temperatures rose up again.
Burned and collapsed container on MSC Flaminia; Glow fire inside the Container in Hold 7 Expert advice on board

In the light of these circumstances, shipping company NSB, at the recommendation of the Central Command For Maritime Emergencies Germany and attending experts, decided to use the new encapsulation agent F-500 applying with FOGNAIL direct into the effected containers.

The effects of "Cobra", FOGNAIL and F-500

With the help of the Cold Cut System "Cobra" and its ability to create several more openings in the container walls, the situation had become stable for the time being.

In order to fight the deep seated glowing embers, the encapsulation liquid F-500 was injected through Fognails and "Cobra" into the seats of fire. They were also used to extinguish the remaining hot spots in the containers on the upper decks. The operation of the Fognails – compared to the "Cobra" system's necessity of manual operation – was able to be maintained without local manpower over a long time. That minimised the risk for the members of the fire brigades in the contaminated environment.

Crossway as only access to the fire place "hot" containers three tiers below main deck Hold seven containers with active nozzle to cool down

Unloading the cargo of the MSC "Flaminia" was a logistic high performance operation, planed and organised from the Central Command For Maritime Emergencies Germany. Specialists of Lloyd Werft cut the wedged and destroyed container elements apart in order to enable the port to take them ashore.

During the operation, cargo hold number 7 still included "hot" containers. To secure the unloading process, these containers were beforehand covered with a mixture of water and F-500 as well as foam. After opening them ashore the remaining fire spots were completely extinguished. When all "hot" containers had been unloaded, the fire brigades were clear to leave the area.

The "Cobra" of the Central command for maritime emergencies and F-500 ready to use on deck Hatch coaming area protected with foam "hot" containers in the hold secured by F-500


F-500 and foaming agents in front of the MSC Flaminia The standard procedure of using normal water or foam was not a sufficient solution to fight these special fires.
FOGNAIL equipment for use on MSC Flaminia F-500 for cooling and extinguishing of the containers on the upper decks The author after a "Flaminia" mission Especially foam is not expedient to contain deep glowing fires, since it is unable to sufficiently enter the seats of fire. Permanent cooling is necessary to avoid the spreading of the fire. This, however, also results in the flushing down of adhesive foam from the container walls.
Additionally, the following facts argue against the use of foam-based extinguishing agents in naval firefighting:
  • Gets blown away, due to high thermal conditions
  • Thermal disintegration at temperatures more than 1000°C (1832 F)
  • Minor cooling effect
  • Not to produce under strong smoke development
  • Short time of effect
Using encapsulation liquids like F-500 can be reviewed as highly efficient. The flammable materials soaked with the solution are encapsulated and no longer available for the burning process. In contrast to foam based agents – which require a constant coverage – F-500 acts as a directed extinguisher also inside deep glowing fires. Especially the use of Fognails in several different sizes and variants made it possible to penetrate hardened layers of the combustion process and to apply the F-500 solution directly into the glowing embers.

Furthermore, F-500 significantly raises the cooling effect of sea water. Only by using that mix it was made possible to bring down the fire to an acceptable limit in order to unload the containers and to completely extinguish them on the upper deck. Another advantage is its suitability for multiple classes of fire (like for example metal fires and fat fires) that can start in containers of unknown content. An absolute highlight of the F-500 encapsulation liquid is the possibility to add and apply it via all standard technical solutions free from environmental circumstances.

Based on that background the writer recommends to fundamentally fire protection expert Lars Tober re-evaluate the use of foam on all sea going vessels in the future.

Lars Tober
Expert Advisor of Central Command For Maritime Emergencies Germany, Dpt. 4

Managing Director
Gesellschaft für Sicherheitstechnik/Schiffssicherheit Ostsee mbH

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