Fires onboard form a great part of maritime casualties. One way to address them is the proper training through efficient and regular drills, which ensure that crew members are ready to handle a fire onboard. But what are the steps to be followed for a proper fire drill?
As per SOLAS, fire drills must be carried out with specific frequency (depending the vessel’s type) in order to ensure crew’s familiarity with equipment and procedures:
Fire is a critical situation requiring ‘all hands on deck’ to participate in the emergency. As such, all crew members should be assigned with tasks as per muster list, taking into consideration the type of the vessel, any special compartments’ requirements and the availability of systems onboard.
At initial stages of training (and drills), it is necessary to familiarize personnel with equipment and systems, prior engaging them to a full-scale scenario.
Special reference should be made on appropriate procedure of closing openings, doors, ventilating shafts, fire doors, in order to reduce the supply of oxygen to the fire and isolate smoke.
The stage of preparation and training during drills is the appropriate clothing & uniforms’ use. Fireman outfit should be tried by all available crew members so that all of them be able to react. The signals with tow line should be explained in order both fireman and line handler to be familiar with the signals.
As each area of the ship has a different method of approaching and attacking fire emergency situations, different ways and approaches should be considered and tested.
A full scale scenario is to be tested after completion of all initial training stages. The equipment and systems’ familiarization stage should be repeated during every change of crew.
Step by step drill
- Crew members need guidance and senior officers (Chief officer/Chief Engineer) should provide detailed guidance for each step of drill. This will provide the necessary confidence to crew members on how to react during real situations.
- Each drill should simulate reality as much as possible. Turning off lighting or use training smoke creates a close to reality environment.
- Injured personnel evacuation with stretcher’s use should be part of the drill in order to provide training on different technics (vertical transfer, accommodation stairway use, etc.).
- An effective briefing (toolbox meeting) should be the starting point of the drill. An effective debriefing and a written evaluation should be final stage of each drill.
SQE has developed a sample of toolbox meeting in order to be used as guidance onboard.
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