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Control measure

Identify whether cargo is involved

Control measure knowledge

Details of any cargo carried should be listed and should be available from the vessel's cargo manifest, vessel owners, coastguard, port authorities, agents or insurers. This may include cargo in static containers, road-going heavy goods vehicles (HGV), bulk carriers and designated cargo holds.

Firefighters must remember that cargoes can be very varied. Some are inherently dangerous, while others may become so when they react to heat or water. Some cargoes, although not chemically dangerous, pose a risk to the safety of the vessel and, indirectly, to life, because they affect the vessel's stability by moving about or by swelling as a result of absorbing water.

Conversely, the inappropriate use of a fire extinguishing medium, or using the wrong medium, can cause unnecessary damage to cargo.

Removing or moving cargo from the vessel or any adjoining compartments as part of the incident plan should form part of any joint decision making process, which may include:

  • The ship's master or nominated representative
  • Harbour master
  • Port authorities
  • Local authorities
  • Owners
  • Insurers

See National Operational Guidance: Hazardous Materials

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Make arrangements with ports that allow responding crews to access cargo manifests

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Access any available information to identify the cargo (e.g. manifest, crew knowledge)
  • Identify whether the incident should be reclassified as a hazardous materials response
  • Agree actions relating to the movement of cargo and salvage operations with the ships master
  • Identify if the vessel is compliant with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code

  • Identify presence of hazardous materials on board (e.g. cylinders, illegal activities)