In that particular case, the fire onboard was caused by radiated heat from an incandescent reflector lamp fitted in a cargo light igniting the timber cargo.

While it is widely known that incandescent reflector lamps produce heat, the findings of this investigation offer valuable information to ship designers, owners and operators to consider when selecting the means of lighting in the cargo holds and other parts of their ships. There are equivalent lighting options, such as LED lamps, that do not produce the same high temperatures.

With respect to another recent case, Maritime NZ highlighted the following safety points:

  • All PCBUs (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking) involved in ship operations have a responsibility to reduce the risks that are under their control. This is a requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).
  • Consideration should be given by everyone involved to the enhanced fire risk from loading wooden packages in a hold designed to take shipping containers.
  • Isolating the hazard by leaving a clear space between the light and cargo could prevent a fire.
  • It could also be prevented by ensuring all the lights were turned off once loading was complete.
  • Since this incident, the operator has replaced all hold lights throughout the fleet with LED equivalent bulbs to eliminate the risk, even if a light is inadvertently left on in the future.