Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

131 ICEVs and BEVs during the tests. The tests illustrated that while both vehicles presented different fire scenarios, the performance requirements for existing drencher systems on both closed and open ro-ro decks meant they were sufficient to contain a BEV fire, at least to a level equivalent of an ICEV fire. A fire caused by a fuel spill from an ICEV develops very rapidly, peaks high but burns out fast, whilst a fire starting in the battery pack of a BEV is slower and smaller (resulting in a lower heat release), but it burns longer. The scenario of the fire in other combustibles – such as tyres, exterior and undercarriage plastic parts, and the inside of the car – is similar. As the drencher system was capable of containing the fire, the tests clearly illustrated that the overall risk of carrying BEV vehicles should be considered equivalent or lower than carrying ICEVs. As for the latter vehicle type, there is the additional risk of the fire spreading horizontally if a fuel tank ruptures, sending burning fuel under the adjacent cars. It is also important to remember that the main purpose of firefighting systems on ro-pax ferries is not necessarily to extinguish a fire but rather to contain it until the vessel can get to a port. Here, passengers are evacuated and professional firefighters board to extinguish the fire. Ferry operators should adopt a similar mindset regarding BEV fires – it is no different to what the industry has done so far, providing they release the right drencher section in time. If they are too slow and do things incorrectly, they risk spreading a fire that could result in a nightmare scenario. In conclusion, BEVs are no more hazardous than ICEVs, yet the risks of Li-ion batteries differ to those of conventional fuels. For this reason, Interferry has recommended its members do not make any special provisions for carrying BEVs – and even charge them if that’s an option – provided that equipment and training are compliant with Safety Of Life At Sea requirements and International Safety Management code, which, of course, they always have to be! Johan Roos is director of regulatory affairs at Interferry Image: Philippe Holthof Vehicles are packed closely together on the decks of ro-pax ferries, but LASH FIRE tests have shown that drencher systems are capable of containing fires in both BEVs and ICEVs