Any fire onboard a vessel, or in the workplace can be one of the most dangerous things to be involved in. they can and often do lead to damage to or loss of the vessel and serious injury or loss of life!
Unfortunately, when we do onboard training it’s sad to note that many crew members don’t know how to efficiently deal with fires onboard or even be able to identify what fire extinguisher is what.
Failure to be able to identify which extinguisher to use on specific fires and how to use them puts you and your vessel in danger.
The risk of injury when fighting a fire or simply being onboard is very high. Injuries range from minor to critical and loss of life and include but are not limited to:
- Smoke inhalation
- Inhalation of toxic fumes
- Eye damage
Let’s look at burns
There are 3 classifications of burns which are first, second or third degree depending on how deep and severe they penetrate the skin’s surface.
- First degree (superficial burns)
First degree burns only affect the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The burn site is red, painful, dry and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example.
- Second degree (partial thickness) burns
Second degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered and may be swollen and painful.
- Third full thickness) burns
Third degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. These burns may also damage the underlying bones, muscles and tendons. The burn site appears white or charred. There is no sensation in the area and the nerve ending. are destroyed.
Burns affecting 10 percent of a child’s body and those affecting 15 to 20 percent of an adult’s body are considered to be major injuries and require hospitalisation and extensive rehabilitation.
Smoke inhalation and toxic fumes
What many people don’t realise is that many items involved in a fire produce not only smoke but toxic fumes which are deadly if inhaled.
Many furniture items and bedding along with chemical products such as cleaners, oils, etc. can produce toxic fumes which, if inhaled even in small quantities can cause death.
Risk of explosion
The risk of an explosion is always present when fire is involved. Vessels have fuel onboard, many have LPG, Oxy gear and many others which all have the potential for an explosion.
An explosion brings a list of other potential injuries including:
- Cuts and abrasions
- Bone fractures or breaks
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- and many others including loss of life!
All fires present the potential to become major in seconds which can and often does result in serious damage to or loss of your vessel not to mention lives of those onboard.
If you don’t deal with a fire quickly and efficiently you put your vessel and all those onboard at risk. A fire can go from a small fire to uncontrollable in seconds, so your response time is critical.
One of the scenarios we include in our training is what to do with a small fire in the engine room that becomes uncontrollable and traps a crew member. What would you or your crew do in this situation?
The simple fact is you have to act quickly and efficiently and the only way to ensure that happens is by regular training.
We strongly recommend that you ensure all crew members and other workers both sea-going and shore-based receive training in emergency fire procedures.
This gives you the best chance of having a fire dealt with in a safe and efficient manner. While this is a recommendation it’s also a legal requirements for vessel owners, operators and Master’s to ensure all have at least a basic knowledge of what to do if a fire breaks out.
Our second recommendation is to review your fire procedures to ensure they cover the potential fire locations including engine rooms, accommodation areas, the galley, etc.
Like to have your fire procedures reviewed for free, then contact our office to have get a free assessment. Phone: 07 4242 1412 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ensure you induct and train your crew and other workers identifying the location and type of fire extinguishers and any suppression systems.
Have them go around the vessel or workplace and identify fire extinguisher locations and what type of fires each one deals with.
This simple exercise can save valuable time in the event of a fire and could save lives, one of which could be yours!