Reducing fire risks with reliable protection

CBG Systems’ RAC Plus lightweight fire insulation panels are helping to safeguard passengers

Reducing fire risks with reliable protection
The RAC Plus panels are designed to prevent fires in spaces such as vehicle decks

By Rebecca Gibson |

Although fires onboard passenger ships are rare, if they do occur, it is challenging to evacuate people safely and seek instant firefighting assistance from an external source, particularly if the vessel is sailing in open waters. Consequently, cruise and ferry operators must implement rigorous and reliable fire protection systems to reduce the risk of an outbreak. One simple solution is to install insulation panels.

Australia-based company CBG Systems (CBG) has been providing a range of lightweight fire insulation panels to the marine industry for over 30 years and they are now installed on 90 per cent of the world’s high-speed ferries. In 2020, CBG debuted Rapid Access Composite (RAC) Plus, a first-of-its-kind lightweight cladding that can withstand temperatures of more than 1,000C and offer at least 60 minutes of fire protection.

Developed in collaboration with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the RAC Plus system comprises non-metallic, non-corrosive panels with a washable white veneer coating and a marine-grade stainless steel supporting structure. The panels also have a thermal non-intumescent protective coating that uses CSIRO’s patented Hybrid Inorganic Polymer Systems technology to ensure they fully retain their structural integrity in extreme heat.

The innovative RAC Plus system has been approved for use as an A60-class fire division solution onboard high-speed craft and steel ships by the International Maritime Organization, US Coast Guard, Transport Canada and the European Union Marine Equipment Directive. It has already been successfully installed on two new ferries: Baleària’s Eleanore Roosevelt and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s Buccoo Reef.

According to CBG’s managing director Javier Herbon, RAC Plus will offer multiple benefits to both ferry operators.

“The entire system can be installed quickly at a rate of around 1.5 man-hours per square metre, and individual panels can be removed within just five minutes if they need to be repaired or if an engineer needs to access the structural elements of the vessel,” he explains. “This minimises maintenance requirements and costs throughout the ship’s lifecycle.”

In addition, the system weighs up to 70 per cent less than a traditional metal-clad fire insulation system of the same size. “RAC Plus decreases the ship’s overall weight, thereby reducing fuel consumption, operating costs and carbon dioxide emissions,” says Herbon. “It’s a true game changer for fire safety at sea.”

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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