Fire fighting organization on board / part 1
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Fire fighting organization on board consists of several teams. The master of the ship bares the overall responsibility for the operation.
Though duties vary from ship to ship, usually the chief officer will be in charge of operations in the accommodations and deck area, and chief engineer is responsible for operations in and around the engine room. The crew is divided into various teams such as fire fighting , engine room, technical and first aid team.
The organization and jurisdictions of shore based rescue services and the resources available to them will vary from country to country and may involve civilian or military emergency agencies. The way in which the operation is handled will also depend on whether the ship is at sea or in port. Local fire fighting authorities will normally engage fires that occur in port. Fires at sea however will require a great deal more organization, which can include assistance of fire fighting tugs and transportation of fire fighting crew and equipment from sever different stations to the area. Such operations are coordinated at multi- jurisdictional levels.
There are planned courses of action or procedures that are intended to result in the best possible outcome. This involves the placement and coordination of crewmembers or teams in such a way that maximizes their ability to cope with situation. These procedures include:
- Alerting a notifying
- Alarm instructions
- Saving lives
- The emergency escape breathing device
- Limiting the fire
- The use of fire doors
- The use of smoke and fire dampers
- Extinguishing the fire
It is important to alert the bridge, immediately if a fire is detected. This can be done by using automatic or manual alarm systems. The management on board will then have more time to plan and organize the fire fighting operation. On board of every vessel you will find an Emergency plan, explaining the meaning of various alarm signals and your specific duties in an emergency situation. Make sure you are familiar with the Emergency Plan on your vessel.
The emergency escape breathing device "EEBD" is a personal breathing mask that keeps the user with oxygen for a certain number of minutes, enough to enable him, or her, to escape to a safer environment. The IMO requires a minimum of the sets in accommodation room, two in engine room, two spare and one training set. This means minimum of seven sets per vessel.
The main goal of the fire fighters is to limit and finally to extinguish the fire. The limiting of fire is done by:
- Cooling down bulkheads
- Cloasing the ventilation
- Removing gas bottles from the area
- Shutting down electrical power
- Sealing the area
Fire doors are designated to isolate various sections of the vessel from both fire and smoke propagation. They must operate via a remote closing mechanism but also manually, in case of power failure. Fire doors and dampers operation is standing part of the ship’s mandatory fire drill. Smoke and fire dampers close the ventilation and air flow through parts of the vessel. Because the number, type and location of the doors and dampers will vary from ship to ship, crewmembers are sxpected to become familiarized with them. It is very important that all the time no obstructions are in the way of closing mechanism.
The sooner extinguishing operations are started; the greater are the chances of a successful method the goal must be the total elimination of the blaze.
One must also consider the amount of damage the extinguishing agent will cause to surrounding area, while still keeping in mind that the first priority is to extinguish the fire before it causes any more damages.
In some parts the vessel, one can choose between fixed fire fighting installations or using manual equipment such as hoses or extinguishers. In some areas of the ship, manual fire fighting will be the only alternative. Permanent fire fighting systems such as CO2 Inergen; Argonite or foam should be installed and used in areas where the danger of a fire starting is high and there is a great risk of spreading.
Any manual fire involves a certain degree of risk to the extinguishing force. The decision as to which equipment to utilize in a specific situation must be well based.
Communication skills are important factor in good human relations and earning the respect of your fellow crewmates. It is important to keep in mind not only what you say but also how you say things.
The tone of your voice and use of body language conveys a great about what we actually mean. Good leaders are also good listeners and this gives them an ability to connect with others. The place to communicate in, yet just one misunderstood order can result in a serious accident. Misunderstanding can easily occur when crew members of different nationalities and native languages try to communicate in a second language, so it is important that everybody clearly understands what the other is saying.