Fire Risk and its Management in Cruise Vessel Construction Projects

Pekka Räisänen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The purpose of this research was to identify and describe the project fire risk in the cruise vessel building industry, to assess the size of risk and to explicate responses. The theoretical approach was based on project management, general fire risk management and shipbuilding literature. The study was carried out with seven shipyards of four European shipbuilding companies, which represented 85 - 90% of the world building capacity. The research approach consisted of twelve improvement and benchmarking action cycles with the shipyards over three years, which produced extensive quantitative and qualitative empirical material. Many of the findings were used to improve building processes at the yards. The practical findings include 14 categories of contributing factors for ignition, three types of consequences, 27 key metrics for risk assessment and 141 responses to fire risk. The empirical data included a unique, very large set of fire incident statistics, which covered 221 fire incidents on 22 vessels. From the empirical material, it was derived that four out of five fires were due to hot work, and that most of the fires were extinguished by personnel on-board with portable extinguishers. It was estimated that large fires of over one million euros in damages occur every 100 – 200 fire incidents. The thesis provides new information to the discipline of shipbuilding fire risk management in risk identification, assessment and responses. In particular, hot work on-board, management of moveable fire load, personnel behaviour, detection and alarm, suppression, confinement of fire by closing all major openings, and evacuation were found to be important. Furthermore, unconventional commissioning of the ship's own sprinkler systems early in the building process was found to be especially important, and was estimated to reduce the risk of a large loss by an order of magnitude. The thesis contributes to general project risk management by demonstrating how data from complex construction projects can be used in setting up systematic risk management practices. The action research method was applied in mutual safety benchmarking of rival shipbuilding companies, which has been very useful in obtaining the results, and is recommended for similar problems in other industries. Further fire risk research is suggested in the effects of workforce, the effects of shipbuilding process, the benefits of automatic suppression and the analysis possibilities offered by the European fire incident statistics database.
Translated title of the contributionTulipaloriski ja sen hallinta risteilyalusprojekteissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Artto, Karlos, Supervising Professor
  • Kujala, Jaakko, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5765-1
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5766-8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • shipbuilding
  • project risk
  • fire risk
  • cruise vessel
  • ignition prevention
  • management of consequences of fires


Dive into the research topics of 'Fire Risk and its Management in Cruise Vessel Construction Projects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this