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Maritime fire-fighting refresher training critical for vessel safety!

STCW maritime fire-fighting training critical for vessel safety! Book your refresher course now!

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It is estimated that every year in UK waters alone nearly 100 vessels are damaged or destroyed by fire. The result is often a lost or severely damaged vessel and potentially millions of dollars in lost revenue and business. Sadly, in some cases, lives too are lost.

For those working in the marine industry, training in maritime fire fighting is essential and provides both officers and crew with the knowledge and skills to confidently deal with fires on board a ship. Such training significantly increases crew and passenger safety and reduces the potentially catastrophic results of fire.

On 6th May 2006 the engine room on board the ‘Calypso’ cruise ship caught on fire whilst travelling from Tilbury to St. Peter Port in Guernsey, the ship held 708 people including passengers and crew. Thankfully no lives were lost and the fire was extinguished due to the prompt action taken by the watch-keeping Engineering Officer. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) established that: “The fire was intense and the subsequent fire fighting response highlighted flaws in the knowledge, experience and training of some of the senior ship’s officers.” The report continued: “Those in charge of the fire fighting response did not appear to follow good practice”. It is evident from this case and other more recent incidents the importance of undertaking ship fire fighting training to protect those on board and to equip the crew with the correct skills and knowledge to fight a fire at sea.

STCW 2010 – Essential fire fighting training for seafarers

Red One’s Maritime Fire Fighting Training School, which forms part of the Academy of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is a recognised leader in the provision of top quality marine fire fighting training. Based in Plymouth, Devon, UK, the Maritime School offers a full suite of STCW courses. These courses, which incorporate as appropriate a ‘real fire’ exercise on a purpose built ship training structure, are designed to ensure that officers and crew are fully competent to contain and extinguish a fire aboard their vessel.

Paul Fear, head of the Maritime School tells us: “In January 2012 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced a mandatory course refresher time of five years for training in Updated Proficiency in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting, and Updated Proficiency in Advanced Fire Fighting. So, from 1st January 2017, all personnel working onboard must have documentary evidence of either completing an appropriate STCW training course or having updated their training within the last 5 years. In addition, from January 2014, mandatory security training is required for all crew.” Paul added: “We are urging all ship owners, operators and management companies to review their staff training certification and to coordinate refresher training for their staff as early as possible to avoid their certification lapsing.”  Red One can now offer STCW refresher training courses for seafarers and shore based staff to meet this compliance requirement.

The Maritime School has also recently added the BTEC Level 3 Advanced Award in Maritime Fire Fighting for Firefighters and Junior Officers and BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Maritime Fire Fighting Incident Command for Flexi and Senior Officers to its range of courses. The course content includes:

·         Fire alarm and detection systems

·         Fire fighting equipment and tactics

·         The impact of fire fighting techniques and stability during marine incidents

·         Fire fighting in ports, at sea and inland waterways

·         Action on arrival & operational considerations

·         Effects of heat and humidity & the removal and cooling of hot gases

·         Hose management and use of fire fighting media.

Red One’s Maritime School can offer tailored courses in all areas in order to give delegates unique training which is specific and relevant to their sector, bespoke elements can be added to STCW 2010 courses for example, however the components that make the course accredited are required to stay in place. This ensures students to receive not only STCW 2010 certification but they will also gain more in-depth training to enhance their fire fighting knowledge which is relevant within their particular sector. Paul said: “We are delighted to offer this service as it means that delegates leave us with accredited certification as well as training that meets the specific needs within their area of operation or vessel type, which further increases crew and passenger safety”.

The content of the Fire and Safety at Sea Legislation Regulations of the STCW Codes are the main focus of the day to day work activities carried out at the Maritime School.  The Maritime School has operated for over thirty years and the STCW 2010 curriculum has recently been re-accredited by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Authority (MCA) after changes had been made to the course contents. Paul said: “The STCW 2010 certificates we deliver are issued on behalf of the MCA and they have a rigorous system of inspection and accreditation for all the elements that we teach. It is this accreditation system that the school has just successfully completed, to enable us to continue certification.”

Whilst still adhering to the STCW 2010 regulations, the Maritime School has also introduced new fire fighting, ventilation and command and control techniques employed by international fire and rescue services.  These procedures include basic fire behaviour skills such as the recognition of potential flashover and backdraft situations and the ability to control the incident environment with advanced branch techniques and basic tactical ventilation.

The Maritime School’s facilities, in addition to lecture rooms and breathing apparatus training amenities include a demonstration room to enable students to witness the live actuation of sprinklers, inert gas flooding, foam systems and high pressure fog extinguishing systems.  Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has recently completed the building of a bespoke specialist rescue tower based at its Service Headquarters in Exeter, Devon. This tower will also enable students on Maritime courses to practice ship to ship access.

Experiential learning in a ‘real fire’ environment

The ship fire fighting structure based at the Maritime School in Plymouth is a steel, multi-compartment structure which incorporates machinery spaces with fixed equipment and varied level gantries with multiple access points. Paul said: “The main success of our Maritime School comes from its ability to conduct carbonaceous burning rather than using gas. This provides students with a greatly enhanced level of realism during fire fighting and the ability to control the conditions themselves using advanced fire behaviour techniques and ventilation. This experiential learning is demanding, but ultimately contributes to a much greater appreciation of the factors involved in on-board fire fighting”.

Red One has the skills and expertise to meet all your industrial fire service training needs. For more information, call us on +44 (0)1392 353373 to find out how we can help make your staff safer.