Fire Gear Lockers:
I could ramble for hours on Repair Locker organization. For now, we’ll keep it simple. Keep in mind, again, your assets and deficits.
The repair lockers themselves are assets, but where are they located? If your lockers are located in an area where they can only be accessed through one route, you might rethink the location. If you have two lockers (forward and aft), how far apart are they? If you had to abandon a locker or ask for more equipment from another, how long would it take? Don’t be afraid to consider installing a third repair locker mid-ship. By putting your primary locker in the middle, this reduces the time it takes to get valuable equipment and personnel where they’re needed the most. As the main coordinator of firefighting efforts, you should always be aware of what equipment assets you have and when should they be moved.
Fire parties are normally assigned by position. Your best assets should be your rapid response team. Do you have a RRT? These is a small team of designated first responders who perform initial barrier control including closing doors, securing ventilation and isolating electrical power. Not only should they be well versed in firefighting techniques, they should be familiar with the spaces and sources of combustion. A Safe Stagging Area is also necessary. The RRT Leader should designate a place for the back-up and medical teams to set-up equipment. He should assure that it’s safe before calling for extra help.What happens if your Medical-PIC is himself a victim?
How many people do you need on a fire team? I would recommend at least four: Team Leader, Nozzleman, and two Hosemen. A hose team is considered “manned and ready” when they have all four members dressed out at the entrance to the effected space, with a positive fire fighting agent test. Remember that control of fire fighting efforts falls on the most competent person that is closest to the fire. In this case, the team leader, a position usually held by the Chief Mate. It’s his fire and he reports to the bridge only to provide input for coordination. The fire, itself, belongs to him.
How many fire teams will you need? There are so many variables that it would be difficult to give one all-inclusive answer. Keeping your assets and deficits in mind, consider that if there is more that one entrance to the affected space, would two fire teams be effective in putting out the fire?
The one thing that stands out in maintaining firefighting efforts is air pack time management. If you can fight a fire in full gear for longer than fifteen minutes, you’re Superman. Fire team relief efforts should be closely monitored. Have your backup fire teams dressed out and ready outside the buffer zone as soon as possible. Keep in mind that if you have to relieve a fire team that’s in the middle of fighting the fire, that team should back out of the space before first. If the fire is out and the reflash watch is in place, relief can take place in the affected space. Know your air pack assets. If you run out of air packs, you can’t fight the fire in the space. Do you have a plan to recharge air packs during fire fighting efforts?The key to success is through organization. During a fire drill, if have your personnel sitting in an air conditioned space, waiting for the abandon ship drill, you may want to rethink your organization. Remember your Assets and Deficits, and keep your people informed.
Missed the first section of this article? Go back and read Fighting Class B Fires, Assets and Deficits – 1 of 4
This series was written by Timothy Ciciora, Command Master Chief USN, Retired, Atlantic Beach, Florida, author of short stories, including “The Homecoming,” the opening selection in the Marlo Thomas best selling collection, The Right Words at the Right Time – Volume 2.