Management of risk
Date issue released
Safety Issue Description

Iron Chieftain's operators had formally identified the fire risk in the ship’s cargo self-unloading system spaces, particularly the C-Loop, as being unacceptably high 5 years before the fire due to the absence of fire detection or fixed fire extinguishing system. However, at the time of the fire, the prevention and recovery risk mitigation measures had not reduced the risk to an acceptable level.

Issue number
Issue Status
Closed – Adequately addressed
Transport Function
Marine: Shore-based operations
Issue Owner
Canada Steamship Lines Australia
Mode of Transport
Proactive action
Action number
Canada Steamship Lines Australia
Action date
Action Status
Action description

On 3 March 2020, Canada Steamship Lines Australia (CSL Australia) advised the ATSB that, following the fire on board Iron Chieftain, the CSL Group (the parent company) launched the Fire Integrated Risk Mitigation (FiRM) project across its global fleet. The FiRM project working group was tasked with a review of CSL’s policies, procedures, and technologies in place for the prevention, detection and fighting of fires.

FiRM initiatives were developed under the project’s four pillars of:

  • Prevention and maintenance: The strategic objective is to supply and install safety devices for fire prevention, as well as review and improve maintenance procedures for high fire risk equipment.
  • Firefighting: The strategic objective is to review and improve CSL’s firefighting policy. This strategic objective also aims to upgrade and standardize the global fleet’s supply and storage of firefighting equipment (FFE) and personal protection equipment (PPE).
  • Detection and suppression: The strategic objective is to enhance the global fleet’s capabilities for early heat detection, fire detection and fire suppression by installing new technology. Examples include early heat detection (thermal imaging cameras for SUL high risk areas), fire detection (SUL linear heat detection alarm systems integrated with closed circuit television camera systems (CCTV) and water mist suppression systems and, engine room cameras with flame/smoke/mist video analytics).
  • Newbuild and conversion design: The strategic objective is to improve newbuild and conversion of SUL design from a safety perspective by defining the standard for minimum requirements for early heat detection and fire detection. This strategic objective also aims to induce discussions for tactical layout of SUL equipment to mitigate fire risk during the design phase.

On 21 April 2020, CSL Australia provided the following update on the progress of the proposed safety action with respect to the CSL Australia fleet and operations:

  • Full CCTV was installed on board ten CSL Australia ships [including on board ships not equipped with conveyor belt systems].
  • In addition, CCTV was integrated with video data analytics on board five ships.
  • Six CSL Australia ships equipped with conveyor belt systems were equipped with linear heat detection systems.
  • The single CSL Australia-operated ship with an internal conveyor system was fitted with a Hi-Fog water mist fire suppression system covering the ship’s C-Loop and tunnel spaces.
  • Further work is in progress to equip one other ship with CCTV, data analytics and linear heat detection systems.
  • All systems were reported to have user interface and alarm panels in the cargo control room, engine control room and bridge.

On 9 March 2021, CSL Australia further advised that the ATSB that:

  • A CSL Australia ship with external conveyor systems had also been fitted with a deluge system.
  • CCTV was now integrated with video data analytics on board eight vessels.
  • Annual reviews of the SUL system fire safety risk assessments were now being conducted with the latest review completed in February 2021.
  • SUL fire safety risks on board CSL Australia SUL ships have been addressed to be acceptable.

In summary, of the fleet of seven conveyor belt-equipped SUL ships operated by CSL Australia, six have been equipped with linear heat detection systems and/or CCTV integrated with video analytics to provide or enhance the capability for early fire detection with installation planned for the seventh ship.

The single SUL ship with internal conveyor spaces was equipped with a Hi-Fog water mist fixed fire-extinguishing system covering the ship’s internal SUL spaces. In addition, one ship with external conveyor systems was equipped with a deluge system and installation of a deluge system is intended for at least one other ship. Further, the rollout of the FiRM project’s initiatives across the CSL Group’s global fleet can be expected to further reduce the fire safety risk on board its SUL bulk carriers worldwide.