Seagoing vessels present a number of issues when it comes to fire safety. What makes cruise ships in particular so challenging?

Dirk Blomke: Cruise ships are floating cities, and conditions at sea require above-average safety measures. On board, you face all kinds of hazards not commonly encountered on land, such as narrow, dark and confined spaces, and steep ladders.

Rapid escape for people at sea is impossible, and help from outside cannot be expected quickly; there is no fire brigade on the oceans. So the key safety issue for passenger ships is to protect the life of the passengers and crew on board, through excellent fire extinguishing and detection systems.

What is Minimax’s approach to designing, installing and maintaining fire detection and prevention systems?

Our competence centres create appropriate and tailored fire protection solutions for all hazards likely to occur on cruise ships, including solutions in engineering, project management, installation and commissioning. After installation, we provide yearly maintenance, repairs and upgrades for all our fire protection systems, whenever needed. At our head office in Bad Oldesloe we have a fully facilitated design and research centre, where we carry out intensive fire testing and development work that ensures we continue to deliver trendsetting innovations for the future.

We keep abreast of classification requirements, and are in continuous contact with the national authorities to ensure that our equipment is developed and tested according to the latest regulations. All our systems have type approvals of the major classifications.

Different areas of a ship require very different approaches. Could you talk about some of the various solutions you offer?

Our high-pressure water mist extinguishing system, Minifog marine XP, is an optimal all-around protection system. It can be deployed in all areas, including cabins, corridors and engine rooms, either for total flooding or for local application. One single sprinkler can cover an area of up to 32m², and the Minifog total flooding system is approved for engine rooms with a gross volume of up to 8,235m³.

Minimax also offers the MX 1230 marine extinguishing system, with the proven and tested clean agent Novec 1230. As this extinguishant is neither corrosive nor electrically conductive, and not dangerous to users’ health, it is the optimum solution for switchboard rooms and most high-risk and high-value areas. It is also frequently specified as an alternative for engine room protection, as there is no danger to health and its unique rapid fire-knockdown takes only ten seconds.

We are very proud to announce that we have recently finished the testing of our Minimax dry chemical powder system, for the protection of LNG bunkering stations for LNG-fuelled vessels, and for cargo decks at an impressive low operating temperature of -35°C. We have tested the installation of the nozzles with pipe lengths up to 90m.

Space and weight are limited even on the largest cruise ships, and extinguishing systems are no exception. How can you help meet this demand?

With the Minifog marine XP, the demand for minimised space and weight is fully satisfied, without sacrificing its compliance with the highest safety requirements. Because the water droplets are smaller, the water has a much bigger surface area, which increases the cooling and extinguishing effect enormously.

In the case of a fire, the Minifog marine XP requires up to 90% less water than traditional sprinkler systems. This means the pipes can be much smaller, and when they are filled with water, the subsequent weight reduction is huge. This is an important consideration for our clients to make, especially in the higher decks of cruise vessels.

Finally, our MX 1230 systems offer the advantage that the gas cylinders can be installed within the protected space, without the need for a dedicated cylinder room. This saves vital space while safely and rapidly suppressing the fire.