We have recently developed a new simulator for firefighting training, the ‘K-Sim Safety’ apart from the ‘K-Sim Navigation’ which is the navigation simulator, ‘K-Sim Cargo’ and K-Sim Engine. Lately, we created the entire engine room visually. There have been so many requirements for crew and engine room resource management that we thought there is need to create fire training of different scenarios related to emergency response training and extinguishing a fire onboard.
Being a Chief Engineer myself, when I had to renew my license, I went on a training course since I hadn’t been to sea for five years. To my surprise, the training was exactly the same as it was in 1998 when I took my first firefighting training; which means that the communication was done in a classroom, with paper, radios and a fire control plan. Actually, during the training, crew went in separate rooms where the teacher was drilling them what to say and then they made an assessment of the management team to see how they had communicated.
Since today, I have been working for 11 years with simulators. When we did a survey 2 years ago on what type of products can be utilized for firefighting training, we figured out that although there were some products, there was need for developing one on emergency response and communication.
The result is the launch of K-Sim Safety, which is based on a tanker and where we are actually simulating the whole engine room and accommodation area; the idea is that you can put fire, avatars and missing persons to familiarize the entire ship and you can maneuver around in the simulator to see and communicate the correct actions to the team on the bridge or in the safety command center that the instructor won’t assess.
Afterwards, we looked at STCW to figure out what does it say on this advanced firefighting training. It says that you shall be able to control fires, be able to communicate and organize fire parties and it also says in the exercise what type of method for competence shall be used. Namely, it says that it should be in a ship-realistic and simulated environment. Thus, being in a classroom, as I experienced it recently, I must say that I don’t think that it’s a ship-realistic environment. However, it is approved by the authorities.
The K-Sim Safety simulation product can be configured to be utilized in multiple rooms. I will typically be divided in a bridge, fire station one and two, having two fire teams. The idea is that when you launch the alarm in the simulator, the fire team 1 muster on the fire station 1, while the fire team 2 muster on fire station 2; the management team is on the bridge or the safety command centre on board. The instructor is in charge of the exercise and he can put a missing person in cabin and a fire in the same area, for example. When the trainees enter fire station 1, they open a virtual world utilizing an Xbox controller, on the screen. Being in the fire station, you dress the firefighter, put the bottles on the smoke diver and finally you have to report the correct actions to the bridge which is part of the STCW. This is the same as you do in real life onboard.
To my experience, being a marine engineer and safety officer onboard a ship, the failure often starts with bad communication. Often, I’ve been on the fire station and the manager communicates to the bridge that we are manned and ready. However, nobody has put on any equipment and we’re missing a person in the team. Of course, after a while everyone shows up and the situation is investigated and generally normal again, but this type of training is important and required onboard and, on the training centre. Only when you use a simulator, you can see all actions and the instructor is fully in charge.
However, when we discussed creating the simulator solution, there was also an idea that in the exercise, the fire team would have to split. In the exercise there are a manager, an assistant and two smoke divers. They go by the order of the bridge that there is fire on deck 2. At one stage the firefighters are by themselves. They are leaving their manager in order to find the fire. So, they communicate with the team leader and the team leader is communicating with the bridge. That’s why the training solution has two rooms.
When they enter the fire, the team leader stays in a safe area and the fire team enters the toxic area with their masks on. Then, they assess the communication between fire team 1, team leader and the bridge. They assess the communication with the other fire team, also, so you can do it all in the same scenario.
We did build the entire ship with the engine room, all the decks and the instructor has a map of the entire ship and he/she can select where shall it burn, how much smoke shall it be, where’s the missing person.
In other words, such simulators are proved to be useful tools for making the firefighting training more realistic and easier to assess and putting these scenarios up in a short-based station, instead of doing this onboard or just in a classroom.
Above text is an edited version of Leif Pentti Halvorsen’s presentation during the 2019 SAFETY4SEA London Conference.
View his presentation here:
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
Leif Pentti Halvorsen, VP Product, Kongsberg Digital
Leif Pentti Halvorsen is an experienced Product Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology, maritime simulation and cruise industry. He is also skilled in Maritime Training, Navy, Inspection, Safety Management Systems, Sales and Marine Engineering, and is holder of a valid Chief Engineer licence. He has 10 years’ service as Marine Engineer.