fire organization, duty, emergency, captain, officer, hose, pump, foam, carbon dioxide, flooding, boundary cooling, spray, firefighting, first aid, breathing apparatus, ba, scba, fire suit

Fire Organization

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fire organization, duty, emergency, captain, officer, hose, pump, foam, carbon dioxide, flooding, boundary cooling, spray, firefighting, first aid, breathing apparatus, ba, scba, fire suit


Fire suit for protecting against the radiant heat from a large fire


Fire fighting water valves can be operated at the engine room


Stringent fire prevention measures are taken for LNG tankers

Fire Organization

In the case of a fire on board ship, each person on board has to carry out his assigned duty. Each person has a specific task to do. Fire drills are conducted as soon as the ship departs on a long journey. Usually it is about one day after departure. 

Engineering staffs will attend to equipment in the engine room. In case of fire in the machinery space, the engineering staffs will play the major role in controlling the fire, and putting it out. In case of fire on the deck, the navigation staffs
will be the frontline fire fighters, while the engineering staffs will play a supporting role.

In a normal situation, the Captain and the Chief Engineer will be overall in charge of the fire-fighting operation, and the Chief Officer and the Second Engineer Officer will assist them.

The engine department has to run the emergency fire pumps driven by diesel engines or the motor driven fire pumps to supply water to the hoses. This will usually be assigned to the Third Engineer Officer, and he will have a greaser to assist him. The emergency fire pump is driven by diesel engine that can be started by hand cranking. 

Why hand cranking?

In a fire, electrical cables may be burnt and a motor driven fire pump may be rendered useless without electrical supply. A hand cranked diesel engine driving a fire pump, located at a secured location far away from the heat and fuel laden engine room is designed with that in mind.

In a fire, the water hoses are very important, and the people manning the hoses are very important. Cooling puts off the fire. However, in an oil fire in an engine room, this must be used very cautiously. This is because oil in an oil fire floats on water. By discharging water, on it, the fire may spread even more quickly because it can follow the flow of the water. The movement of the ship (rolling and pitching) will certainly make the water move about.

While the frontline firefighters attack the seat of the fire, there will be another supporting gang who will assist by boundary cooling the surrounding walls adjacent to the fire. This is to prevent the heat from one room transmitting to another and so spreading the fire. They will also assist to remove combustibles that can cause the fire to spread. Fire fighters are trained to use hoses in spray water-wall protection and jet action effectively. The deck officer on the bridge will steer the ship, issue commands for slowing down the ship to take advantage of any wind direction if necessary. The engineer on duty at the engine room will respond to instructions for engine speed control, electrical power, and starting and control of fire pumps.

There will also be a group of people who are assigned for first aid duties. Whenever there is a fire and the general alarm has sounded, they will immediately go to the sick room and get stretchers, first aid kits, blankets, and other first aid equipment. Some people will also be assigned to go to specific locations to bring out fireman suit, axes, breathing apparatus, torches, lifelines and so on. Depending on the need for rescue operations, these items may be needed.

Fire drills are meant to prepare the crew for any fire that can occur in any part of the ship. By design, the engine room and machinery spaces are well protected by fire protection systems. Portable fire extinguishers provide the first line of defense for small fires. Fire hoses provide the second line of defense for a larger fire. Fixed foam piping over oil tanks, boilers, and oily areas provide protection for oil fires. Remote quick-closing valves are installed at oil tank outlets so that they can be closed at a secure position to cut off the supply of oil that feeds an oil fire.

If the fire has become too huge and cannot be controlled by the hoses, all the people will evacuate from the engine room. Doors, skylights, hatches and other openings will be tightly closed, and all the ventilation fans will be stopped. Carbon dioxide gas will be used to flood the whole engine room as a last resort. It is the last resort because once the CO2 is used to flooded the engine room, there will not be anymore left to do it a second time. When doing this total flooding, it is very important that all the openings are sealed properly, and that the CO2 gas can be contained in the compartment until the fire dies off due to starvation of oxygen. It is also very important to ensure that the fire has actually died off, and not smoldering when the doors are opened again. With a smoldering fire (or deep-seated fire), once it comes into contact with oxygen, it will burst into flame again.

The Captain and the Chief Engineer will monitor the whole fire episode and directs the actions from afar. They will have messengers to relay commands to the people fighting the fire.


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