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How To Prevent Container Ship Fire

Container ship fire onboard a vessel either docked at port or out to sea can develop into a serious situation, ranging from risk to human life, equipment destruction, or loss of cargo.

Overheated equipment, an explosive event, or electrical cable failure on board a ship can cause a fire. Due to the compartmentalised nature and size of a vessel, this risk can remain undetected for a considerable time. This article will discuss the use of Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) technology to prevent container ship fires. This technology can also be applied to any maritime vessel, such as cruise liners.

How Does Distributed Temperature Sensing Work?

A fibre optic DTS accredited fire detection system can provide you with early warning of abnormal heat buildup AND the exact location aboard your vessel of any fire outbreak.

This technology uses fiber-optic cables that don’t require an external power source. The cables act as a photonic temperature sensor by analysing the reflection of a laser pulse shot through their core. This analysis provides a constant temperature profile localised to within 20mm of abnormal heat buildup throughout the entirety of the ship.

Early warning of a potential fire is critical for evacuation of passengers and crew, targeting fire suppression systems, minimising equipment damage, and avoiding loss of valuable cargo.

Application of DTS Technology On Board Ship

A DTS system can prevent fire, regardless of whether your vessel is used for:

  • Passenger only travel,
  • RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ferry,
  • Oil & Gas transport or
  • Cargo with dust explosive potential (e.g. coal, grain).

A ship’s engine room is one of the potential sources of fire on board. Its large area can make monitoring all of this area plus electrical cable trays, false floors, storage areas, kitchens, corridors and so on, difficult.

Traditional fire detection technologies are designed to alert the crew to the outbreak of a fire after it has ignited. These systems often do not provide precise, real-time data on the location of fire.

A DTS solution provides constant temperature monitoring of these areas with real-time reporting and full integration into fire suppression systems.

Benefits of DTS For Container Ship Fire Prevention

Our fibre optic cable distributed temperature system provides the following key features for your vessel’s protection:

  • Accredited for fire detection use (flame resistance 750°C for 2 hours, IEC 60331)
  • Fibre cable is non-corrosive to survive the effects of the harsh sea environment.
  • Doesn’t propagate the flame along the cable (IEC60332-3).
  • 24×7 remote temperature monitoring of the whole vessel, to detect which compartments are danger areas.
  • Provides the actual location of the fire, to remote monitoring control rooms.
  • It provides early warning of heat before a flame occurs.
  • Can be installed in harsh environments (stainless steel cable sheath with high crush resistance).
  • Is immune to EMI (electromagnetic interference).
  • Requires no maintenance, after it is installed.
Typical passenger vessel DTS and fibre cable layout.

Typical passenger vessel DTS and fibre cable layout.

Typical RORO DTS and fibre cable layout shown

Typical RORO DTS and fibre cable layout shown.

Display fire monitoring areas with ship levels

Display fire monitoring areas with ship levels

Display fire monitoring areas with ship levels.


To enquire about a DTS solution for fire protection on board ship:

Contact Advanced Photonics Australia Today