KIYC investigation finds risk of cargo ship fires is increasing due to transporting hazardous materials

A report from insurance company Allianz Global says there were more than 70 container ship fires reported in the past five years, with the risk growing.

Walt Kane

Jul 6, 2023, 11:31 PM

Updated 289 days ago

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Cargo ship fires like the one that claimed the lives of two Newark firefighters pose an extreme risk to firefighters. A Kane In Your Corner investigation finds the risk has been increasing.
The United States Coast Guard offers specialized training on fighting maritime fires at its training center in Cape May. Even so, experts say firefighters can have their hands full with these types of fires.
“A ship is more like a high rise where your equipment is down many, many floors, hundreds if not more than 1,000 feet away," says Tri-State Maritime Safety Association executive director Douglas Dillon.
“Think about fighting a fire in a steel parking garage,” adds Sean Tortora, president of Long Island Maritime, an industry consulting firm. “You have a parking garage that’s totally enclosed, and it’s made of steel. And the cars are on fire in there. That’s what these firefighters are facing.”
A report from insurance company Allianz Global says there were more than 70 container ship fires reported in the past five years, with the risk growing. “Hazardous and combustible goods are increasingly being transported by container,” the report says, singling out lithium-ion batteries as posing a significant risk.
The Grimaldi Group, owner and operator of the ship involved in the Newark fire, insists its ship was not carrying any hazardous cargo.
The Grimaldi Group is a privately owned shipping company based in Italy. It was founded in 1947, but its owners say the Grimaldi family has been involved in shipping since the 14th century. In recent years, the Grimaldi Group has been outspoken about calling for stricter controls and regulations to reduce the risk of fires. Dillon also says some ports need to be better equipped to handle fires, without needing to rely so much on local departments.
VIDEO: Below is Chopper 12 video over the cargo ship fire in Port Newark


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