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MARINE FIREFIGHTING TRAINING AND ENHANCEMENT FOR VELA MARINE

INTERNATIONAL

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

By:

Craig H. Shelley
Saudi Aramco Fire Protection
Saudi Arabia

An applied research project submitted to the National Fire Academy as part of the
Executive Fire Officer Program
July, 2002

Appendices Not Included. Please visit the Learning Resource Center on the Web at
http://www.lrc.dhs.gov/ to learn how to obtain this report in its entirety through
Interlibrary Loan.

ABSTRACT

Marine Fire Fighting states that Of all the perils at sea, one of the most frightening is
fire. Difficult to deal with and devastating in its effects, fire at sea leaves the mariner caught
between two unforgiving elements (International Fire Service Training Association [IFSTA],
2000, p. 1). Fires on board ships can be both complex to deal with and at times may test the
expertise of firefighters and their physical endurance (HM Fire Service Inspectorate [Home
Office], 1999, p. ix).
The problem that initiated this research project was a fire on board a VELA Marine
International (VELA) supertanker carrying crude oil. After the fire, the internal investigation
report stated that The firefighting techniques were questionable, although successful (Zain,
Haworth, Lacey, Rammah, & Scott, 2001, p. 6). The author was contacted by senior
management of VELA to undertake a study of marine firefighting training given to junior
officers and crews, i.e., those serving under the ships master (captain) or chief engineer.
The purpose of this research project was to examine the marine firefighting training
received by the junior officers, but also to evaluate innovations, techniques, and technologies
used by land-based firefighters and determine if they could be used by ships crewmembers
on board VELA ships. This project employed historical and descriptive research consisting of
a literature review, personal observations, and personal communications to answer the
following questions:
1) What is the quality of marine firefighting training received by junior officers and
crews of VELA?

2) What techniques and tactics currently used by land-based firefighters could be


employed by VELA personnel with regard to firefighting on board ships?
3) What technological improvements currently employed by land-based firefighters
could be used by VELA personnel to assist with firefighting on board ships?
4) What additional training could be performed by VELA to improve the quality and
efficiency of their personnel in responding to fires on board their ships?
The results of this research clearly indicate the need for additional training for VELA
personnel in marine firefighting. The author found that there was a broad spectrum of quality
while still meeting the requirements of the International Maritime Organizations (1996)
International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for
Seafarers (STCW95).
The results further indicated that there are many operational and technological
improvements that have been adopted by land-based firefighters that can be useful to VELA
crews when fighting fires on board their ships.
Recommendations were made to guide VELA in improving the quality of training for
their junior officers and to give guidance when evaluating operational and technological
improvements in land-based firefighting for use in the marine environment. These
recommendations included the selection of marine firefighting schools; increased training in
firefighting; the development of standard operating procedures for firefighting on board ships;
the purchase of thermal imaging cameras; and the purchase of personal alert safety system
(PASS) devices.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE
Abstract.

Table of Contents.

Introduction

Background and Significance.

Literature Review..

Marine Firefighting Defined/Described..

Training...

10

Rapid Intervention Teams

14

Accountability.

16

Standard Operating Procedures.

18

Thermal Imaging Cameras..

19

Personal Alert Safety Systems

19

Crew Resource Management.

20

Procedures.

22

Literature Review..

22

Visits to Marine Training Facilities..

23

Assumptions and Limitations..

24

Results

24

Discussion..

30

Recommendations

33

References.

37

Appendix A Evaluation Form.

41

Appendix B Detailed Discussion

49

Philippines

50

India..

57

Croatia.

60

Poland..

63

Egypt

66

Appendix C Photographs.

69

INTRODUCTION

Mervyn Kettle (2002) writes the following:


A number of fatalities and severe injuries have occurred among crew and
passengers on ships experiencing fires, either directly or indirectly as a result of
(a) inadequate understanding of the behaviour [sic] of fire, (b) a lack of standard
operational procedures in relation to tactics and command and control, and (c)
inadequate training for ships crews. (p. 24)
Through the ages, man has used the waterways of the world for transportation.
(International Fire Service Training Association [IFSTA], 2000, p.1) The IFSTA manual
Marine Fire Fighting (2000) further states that Of all the perils at sea, one of the most
frightening is fire. Difficult to deal with and devastating in its effects, fire at sea leaves the
mariner caught between two unforgiving elements (p. 1). Fires on board ships can be both
complex to deal with and at times may test the expertise of firefighters and their physical
endurance (HM Fire Service Inspectorate [Home Office], 1999, p. ix).
The problem that initiated this research project was a fire on board a VELA Marine
International (VELA) supertanker carrying crude oil. After the fire, the internal investigation
report stated that The firefighting techniques were questionable, although successful (Zain,
Haworth, Lacey, Rammah, & Scott, 2001, p. 6). The author was contacted by senior
management of VELA to undertake a study of marine firefighting training given to junior
officers and crews, i.e., those serving under the ships master (captain) or chief engineer.
The purpose of this research project was to examine the marine firefighting training
received by the junior officers and crew, but also to evaluate innovations, techniques, and
technologies used by land-based firefighters that could be used by ships crewmembers on

board VELA ships. This project employed historical and descriptive research consisting of a
literature review, personal observations, and personal communications to answer the
following questions:
1) What is the quality of marine firefighting training received by junior officers and
crews of VELA?
2) What techniques and tactics currently used by land-based firefighters could be
employed by VELA personnel with regard to firefighting on board ships?
3) What technological improvements currently employed by land-based firefighters
could be used by VELA personnel to assist with firefighting on board ships?
4) What additional training could be performed by VELA to improve the quality and
efficiency of their personnel in responding to fires on board their ships?

BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE

VELA is a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, one of the worlds largest oil companies. It
currently has a fleet of crude oil tankers that consists of 18 Very Large Crude Carriers
(VLCC) that carry 1,800,000 barrels of product each and 3 Ultra Large Crude Carriers
(ULCC) that have capacities of 2,000,000 to 3,5000,000 barrels of product (Tankerworld,
2002). Each barrel is the equivalent of 42 gallons of product. VELA has some smaller ships
that carry refined products on short voyages in and around Saudi Arabia.
At 0650 hours on Sunday February 4, 2001 a fire started in the engine room on board
the VLCC Libra Star. The fire burned for one hour and five minutes and was localized to the
second floor of the diesel generator flat (Zain et al., 2001).

The fire was caused by the spray of fuel from a leak in the fuel injector pump on
generator number three, which contacted the engines hot exhaust manifold. The chief
engineer supported by the ships crew brought the fire under control. The generator where
the fire started was a complete loss and there was considerable damage to another
generator, associated electrical cabling, gauges, controls, and lighting fixtures (Zain et al.,
2001).
During the subsequent investigation of the fire it was noted that firefighting teams had
difficulty entering the engine room because of the intense smoke and heat. The investigation
report stated that The firefighting techniques were questionable, although were successful
(Zain et al., 2001, p. 6). There also had appeared to be a breakdown in crew leadership and
command (P. Glover, personal communication, November 27, 2001).
This research project was completed according to the applied research requirements
of the National Fire Academys Executive Fire Officer Program. It was prepared to satisfy the
requirements associated with the Executive Leadership course. The Executive Leadership
course of the Executive Fire Officer Program is designed to provide a framework of executive
level competencies. One of the course units is leadership (Federal Emergency Management
Agency [FEMA], 2001). The most commonly used measure of leader effectiveness is the
extent to which the leaders organizational unit performs its task successfully and attains its
goals (YUKL, 1994, p. 5). Leaders must be able to guide an organization, evaluating current
practices and developing plans to correct mistakes. The leader provides the all-important
bridge from the present to the future of an organization (Bennis & Nanus, 1985, p. 90).
The results of this research will better enable VELA and other marine shipping
companies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of firefighting aboard their vessels by

identifying techniques, tools and innovations as well additional training opportunities that may
exist in the realm of marine and land-based firefighting.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A literature review was performed to identify existing research on the subject of


firefighting both in a land-based and marine environment. The literature review included a
search of fire service and marine trade journals and magazines, published research papers
and textbooks. Those sources relevant to this research project were summarized and
grouped according to the applicable research areas.

Marine Firefighting Defined/Described


The International Fire Service Training Associations (IFSTA) Marine Fire Fighting for
Land-Based Firefighters (2001) states:
Persons who are not involved with the marine industry usually do not think of a
vessel as a small, mobile community. The vessel must provide all the services
of a community such as electric power, housing, food, health services, drinking
water, waste treatment, trash/garbage management, security, and fire
protection. Fires occur on board ships for the same reasons they occur on
shore: poor housekeeping, electrical faults, spillage of flammable substances,
careless smoking, careless welding and metal cutting, arson, etc. For the most
part, the vessels emergency response team (composed of crew members)
efficiently locates, confines, extinguishes, and overhauls fires (p. 1)

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IFSTAs Marine Fire Fighting (2000) states that Of all the perils at sea, one of the
most frightening is fire. Difficult to deal with and devastating in its effects, fire at sea leaves
the mariner caught between two unforgiving elements (p.1). During World War II the United
States Merchant Marine lost more lives per capita than any other group involved in the war
except the United States Marines. When attacked by enemy forces, fires were inevitable.
Fires on board these vessels were fought with little more than guts and ingenuity using very
minimal training and equipment (IFSTA, 2000).
There are now international regulations that require all mariners to receive firefighting
training, and equipment on board has improved since World War II, but still, Fires on board
ships can be both complex to deal with and at times, may test the expertise of firefighters and
their physical endurance (HM Fire Service Inspectorate, 1999, p. ix).

Training
The International Maritime Organizations (IMO) International Convention on
Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers [SCTW95] (1996)
requires that Seafarers employed or engaged in any capacity on board shipbefore being
assigned to any shipboard duties receive appropriate approved basic training infire
prevention and fire fighting (p.112) and further states that Seafarers designated to control
fire-fighting [sic] operations shall have successfully completed advanced training in
techniques for fighting fire with particular emphasis on organization, tactics and
command(Regulation VI/3, p. 48).
Fire courses are based on the requirements of the International Maritime
Organizations (IMO) Model Course 1.20 Basic Firefighting, and the IMO Model Course 2.03

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Advanced Firefighting (International Maritime Organization [IMO], 1996). Respective


governments approve courses and routinely carry out inspections to ensure continues
compliance with the regulations.
The minimum competencies and the knowledge, understanding and proficiencies
required for basic firefighting comprise the following:

Minimize the risk of fire and maintain a state of readiness to respond to emergency
situations involving fire

Shipboard fire-fighting [sic] organization

Location of fire-fighting appliances and emergency escape routes

The elements of fire and explosion (the fire triangle)

Types and sources of ignition

Flammable materials, fire hazards and spread of fire

The need for constant vigilance

Actions to be taken on board ship

Fire and smoke detection and automatic fire alarm systems

Classification of fire and applicable extinguishing agents

Fight and extinguish fires

Firefighting equipment and its location on board

Instruction in:

fixed installations

firefighters outfits

personal equipment

fire-fighting appliances and equipment

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fire-fighting methods

fire-fighting agents

fire-fighting procedures

use of breathing apparatus for fighting fires and effecting rescues (IMO,
1996, Table A-VI/1-2, pp. 115-117)

The minimum competencies and the knowledge, understanding and proficiencies


required for advanced firefighting are:

Control and firefighting aboard ships:

Firefighting procedures at sea and in port with particular emphasis on


organization, tactics and command

Use of water for fire-extinguishing [sic], the effect on ship stability,


precautions and corrective procedures

Communication and coordination during fire-fighting operations.

Ventilation control, including smoke extractor

Control of fuel and electrical systems

Fire-fighting process hazards (dry distillation, chemical reactions, boiler


uptake fires, etc.)

Firefighting involving dangerous goods

Fire precautions and hazards associated with the storage and handling of
materials (paints, etc.)

Management and control of injured persons

Procedures for coordination with shore-based firefighters

Organize and train fire parties:

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Preparation of contingency plans

Composition and allocation of personnel to fire parties

Strategies and tactics for control of fires in various parts of the ship

Inspect and service fire-detection [sic] and extinguishing systems and equipment:

Fire-detection systems; fixed fire-extinguishing systems; portable and mobile


fire-extinguishing equipment including appliances, pumps, and rescue,
salvage, life-support, personnel protective and communication equipment

Requirements for statutory and classification surveys

Investigate and compile reports on incidents involving fire:

Assessment of cause of incidents involving fire (IMO, 1996, Table A-VI/3,


pp. 129-130)

Regulation 1/11 of STCW95 requires that at intervals not exceeding five years,
firefighting certification shall be renewed (IMO, 1996).
When training, students must be motivated to enhance their knowledge and skills in
the course in which they are currently enrolled (Fleming, 1999). Fleming (1999) further states
that Training is a consumable good. Satisfied customers seek additional training. Those with
unsatisfactory experiences that do not meet their perceived wants and needs do not come
back for additional training (p. 19).
When discussing emergency response preparedness Henry Wilson (2000) states that
Ensuring effective response to a crises event requires those with responsibility to take into
account both the training requirements of the responders and the maximisation [sic] of their

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learning. Maximisation [sic] of participant learning during a training event is the key objective
(p. 105).
Hoff and Kolomay (2001) tell us that when training for firefighting the instructor should
Relate the training to its context. Stay realistic (p.120)! In Training in Context, Brian
Crandell (1996) highlights that firefighters will perform as they learned when operating under
stress. Based on this Crandell (1996) believes that the training environment should recreate the context and content of the environment in which firefighters are expected to
perform (p. 169).
Training in context involves training in tactical or strategic wholes, not in parts, by
recreating operational conditions as closely as possible (Crandell, 1996, p. 169). Crandell
(1996) also feels that training in context gives continual support to those skills that should
be essentially automatic, such as donning PPE [personal protective equipment] and SCBA
[self-contained breathing apparatus] (p. 171).
The IMO (1996) believes that practical training should take place in spaces that
provide truly realistic training conditions (e.g. simulated shipboard conditions), and whenever
possible and practical should also be carried out in darkness as well as by daylight (Section
B-VI/1-3, p.242).

Rapid Intervention Teams


Jackubowski and Morton in their book Rapid Intervention Teams identify some of the
common causes of firefighter fatalities. These are as follows:

Failure to recognize rapidly deteriorating conditions

Poor survival training

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Poor communication

Inexperienced officers

Failure to use safety equipment

Water loss

Freelancing (Jackubowski & Morton, 2001, p. 10)

These causes may also apply to firefighting on board a ship. Coleman (1997) states
that The mission of the rapid intervention team (RIT) is to search for and remove firefighters
(p. 287). He further states that The purpose of the RIT is to have on-scene a specific crew
all dressed and ready to go should fire personnel within the structure [or ship] become
trapped, lost, or injured (p. 288).
Some reasons why a firefighter may become a victim in fire incidents and in need of a
RIT are outlined in the training manual Firefighter Rescue and Survival:

SCBA [self contained breathing apparatus] malfunction

Firefighter becomes separated and lost running out of SCBA air

Firefighter becomes injured or trapped

Firefighter suffers medical emergency such as heart attack, stroke, or heat


exhaustion (Fire and Rescue Training, n.d., p. 32)

Fire and Rescue Training also feels that training and discipline during size-up are the
key points to an effective RIT. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends
that a RIT include at least two members and be available for the rescue of a member or
firefighting team if the need arises (NFPA, 2002).

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Jakubowski and Morton (2001) state that Rapid intervention is necessary not only for
the fire service but should be considered by any emergency response organization whose
personnel enter environments that can place their lives in immediate danger (p.5).

Accountability
An accountability system is the only way to maintain incident control on the
fireground (Jakubowski & Morton, 2001, 151). They further highlight that an accountability
system is critical for the RIT as for the personnel operating on the fireground.
Melfi (2001) writes that at a fire or emergency scene you tend to revert to the
developmental or cultural skills learned while growing up. Some of these skills involved a
lack of discipline. Melfi (2001) feels that because of this the necessary discipline is horribly
lacking at many of our fire scenes (p. 68). He further states that The discipline to maintain
an accountability process is not only required but should be demanded and trained on (p.
68).
Accountability can be managed in a number of ways. Commonly, a type of tag or
marker is used with the members name on it (Jakubowski & Morton, 2001). The United
Kingdom approach to accountability involves the use of tallies attached to the self-contained
breathing apparatus (Young, 2001). These tallies are plastic oblong tags that contain the
following information:

Name of the Fire Brigade [department]

The identity of the fire station

The type of SCBA, e.g. compressed air

The number of the SCBA

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The name of the wearer

The cylinder pressure (Young, 2001, p.47)

The tally forms the foundation of a control system that monitors the movement into
and out of the fire structure (Young, 2001, p. 47). The tallies are collected at the entrance to
the structure or fire area and the information on the tally is used to calculate the air supply of
the members. Other parts of the control system include entry control boards, search lines,
and incident command vests (Young, 2001).
The St. Louis Fire Department (SLFD) uses a Member Accountability Roll Call
(MARC) as an integral part of their accountability system. The SLFD feels that an
accountability system can not stand alone. It must be part of the overall incident command
system (Gerner & Schaper, 1998).
The MARC is a polling system by which the incident commander (IC) will verify that all
members operating at their incident are safe and accounted for. A MARC will be conducted
every 20 minutes at all working fires where members are operating inside a fire building or
area (Gerner & Schaper, 1998).
Gerner and Schaper (1998) also feel that at the time of the MARC the IC should
stop, step back, and conduct a thorough reassessment of the incident at the same time
(p.7).
VELA uses a simplified breathing apparatus (BA) control procedure. This BA control
procedure should be adopted every time wearers use breathing apparatus (VELA, 2001,
p.3). This procedure is a method whereby a control officer and the officer in charge of the

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incident can keep an accurate record of how many BA wearers are in use at any time, their
approximate location and when they are expected to return to the entry point (VELA, 2001).

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)


Standard Operating Procedures are written policies, procedures, and/or guidelines that
clearly spell out what is expected and required of personnel during every emergency
response and non-emergency activities (FEMA, 1998). These guidelines provide a
mechanism to communicate legal and administrative requirements, organizational policies
and strategic plans to the members (FEMA, 1998, p.1). FEMA (1998) further states that an
SOP is an organizational directive that establishes a standard course of action (p. 2).
SOPs result in improved safety, performance and morale. SOPs provide a
mechanism to identify needed changes, articulate strategies, document intentions, enhance
training, and evaluate operational performance (FEMA, 1998).
IFSTAs (1998) Fire Department Company Officer states that Development and use of
the SOPs allow an organization to make the best use of its human resources. Having a
consistent point of reference helps all members of the organization perform to a measurable
standard (p. 181). Rubin, Peterson and Phillips (June 2001) believe that Following
established procedures will typically facilitate safe and effective operations (p.49). They
further state that Intentional or incidental departure from standard operating procedures is
often the first link in the accident chain (Rubin et al., June 2001).
VELA (1997) uses SOPs for mobilization during emergency operations on board their
vessels. The SOPs objective is To ensure that there is an organized mobilization [response]

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onboard when there is an emergency which may effect the crew, vessel, cargo and/or the
environment (p. 1). The SOP indicates where the crew is to muster and determines areas of
responsibility for various persons on board the ship (VELA, 1997).

Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC)


The thermal imaging camera is the latest tool in the arsenal of firefighting equipment.
Its ability to detect heat signatures and transfer them into a viewable image makes it an
invaluable tool (Riker, 2002, p.18). The fire service has experienced many changes over the
years but one facet has remained the same since firefighting began- limited visibility.
Thermal imaging has its roots back to the 1950s. Todays thermal imaging cameras have
special sensors that are able to pick up heat waves emitting from objects in an area. Light
waves are blocked by smoke but heat waves are able to penetrate smoke, where the thermal
camera converts heat waves to light waves (Maine Fire Training and Education [MFTE], n.d.).
Jakubowski and Morton (2001) state that TICs cannot see through most objects
(p.78). If a victim is buried or hidden behind an object, the TIC will not see the victim. TICs
help by identifying potential hazards before firefighters reach them and by making it far easier
to locate victims (Jakubowski & Morton, 2001).
A primary purpose of thermal imaging is to enhance safety (MFTE, n.d., p.18).

Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS)


Personnel alert safety systems (known as automatic distress signal units in some
countries) are devices worn by firefighters that will sound an audible alarm for help if the
wearer is unable to do so (NFPA, 1997, p.10-213). PASS will monitor the motion of a

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firefighter and activate an audible alarm when the motion of a firefighter and activate an
audible alarm when motion is undetected for more than 30 seconds (NFPA, 1997). PASS
should be worn by firefighters whenever they operate in any hazardous area (NFPA, 1997,
p. 10-213).
Norman (1991) emphatically states that these devices should become as mandatory
as breathing apparatus [italics added] (p.525).

Crew Resource Management (CRM)


Thomas Lubnau and Randy Okray (2001) report that Crew resource management is a
force multiplier- that is to say, it acts to energize and synergize elements that already exist in
the individual and multiplies them so that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts (p.99).
Originally employed in the aviation industry, the concepts of CRM can be applied to
firefighting to achieve greater efficiency and safety (Lubnau and Okray, 2001). CRM refers
to the effective use of all available resources, people, equipment, time and information
(Lubnau & Okray, 2001, p.99).
Rubin, et al. (July 2001) tell us that The four tenants of the CRM process are:
1. Communications under stress
2. Teamwork and leadership
3. Task allocation
4. Critical decision making (p.66)

Comprehensive CRM programs consider the types of tasks and the environmental and
organizational elements that tend to induce human errors, seeking to minimize the frequency

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and/or severity of these errors at the earliest stage (Veillette, 1998). Veillette (1998) further
states that most traditional CRM courses concentrate on the following:

Communications training enhances our ability to disseminate critical information in


a timely manner: and, more importantly, to bring about a change in the teams
actions.

Situational awareness makes crew members aware of the organizational and


environmental elements surrounding them, how these elements will change over
time, and how to stop error chains from developing.

Training in decisionmaking develops skills in soliciting and scrutinizing information,


formulating strategies for dealing with a task, choosing the optimal strategy with
appropriate goals, and constantly reviewing progress toward implementing the
decision to ensure that the strategy chosen is still the most appropriate.

Attention management seeks to understand how to avoid distractions and to


recognize the warning signs of error chains.

Risk management emphasizes identifying risks in the operational environment,


assessing the probability and severity of risks, deciding which risks deserve
attention, and then applying proper intervention strategies.

Stress management examines the obvious and insidious effects of physical,


environmental, psychological, economic, and organizational stress; how these
affect human performance; and how they can be managed.

Attitude management focuses on recognizing when attitudes are hazardous and


explores the role that hazardous attitudes have played in past accidents. (Veillette,
1998, pp. 23-24)

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McDonald (1997) states that CRM is concerned with changing individual attitudes
through awareness, understanding, motivation and personal skill acquisition (p. 34). He
further tells us that It concentrates on the individual first and the crew second- a more
effective individual will help make a more effective crew (McDonald, 1997, p. 34).
Fisher, Phillips, and Mather (2000) report that Cultures can be a limitation to effective
CRM (p.139). Culture can be defined as shared norms, beliefs or values among a specific
group. When one culture is not in harmony with other cultures, confusion or uncertainty on
how to act or perform occurs (Fisher et al., 2000).

PROCEDURES

This research project employed historical and descriptive research methodologies to


examine marine firefighting training and techniques, technologies and procedures used in
land-based firefighting that can be used in marine firefighting. The procedures used to
complete this research included a literature review and visits to marine firefighting facilities
used by VELA junior officers and crews.

Literature Review
The literature review was conducted at the National Fire Academys Learning
Resource Center during February 2002. The authors personal library as well as VELAs
library were used throughout the literature review process. The literature review targeted fire

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service trade journals and magazines, published research papers, marine industry standards
and regulations, VELA Instructions, and textbooks on marine and land-based firefighting.
The literature review provided historical background regarding marine and land-based
firefighting and training as well as current information on new technologies and procedures
on these subjects.

Visits to Marine Training Facilities


During the months of April, June, and September/October 2001, marine firefighting
schools used by VELA for firefighting training of junior officers and crews were visited.
Selected schools were visited in the Philippines, India, Poland, Croatia, and Egypt. A total of
five facilities were visited in the Philippines, three in India, two in Croatia, one in Poland, and
one in Egypt. The staffing agents used by VELA in the various countries from which VELA
hires crews selected the facilities.
Criteria were developed and an evaluation sheet (Appendix A) was prepared so that
all facilities were evaluated using the same criteria. Some of the criteria used in the
evaluation were:

Cost of the Course

Training facilities/props available

Availability and content of training manuals

Attitude to safety

Quality assurance accreditation

Background and experience of instructors

Student-to-trainer ratio

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Assumptions and Limitations


It was assumed that the sample population of training facilities selected by the staffing
agents was representative of the total population of training facilities available. Since the
staffing agents supply crews to VELA on a continuous basis and are familiar with the
operations and management of VELA it was hoped that they would wish to be cooperative
and helpful with the selection of training facilities.
The major limitation of the research was that not every training facility in each country
could be visited due to time and budgetary constraints.

RESULTS

1) What is the quality of marine firefighting training received by junior officers and
crews of VELA?

Appendix B gives detailed observations of all the schools visited. The following is a
synopsis of the quality of these marine firefighting schools:
In the Philippines, the author observed that there was a wide range of training quality.
While all training met the requirements of SCTW95 and IMO Model Courses 1.20 and 2.03,
the quality of some facilities and the instruction given was substandard.
In Mumbai, India, the quality of instruction appears to be uniform and set to
government standards. All firefighting schools appear to be about equal in facilities, with one,
the Shipping Corporation of Indias facility, only slightly better than the others are. In
Mumbai, no actual firefighting classes were observed. In reviewing the manuals of instruction

25

that were given to the author for evaluation there was again a wide range of quality. No
manuals specifically addressed firefighting and search techniques, nor did they highlight
SCBA controls or SCBA inspection and use. There are search techniques that are currently
taught throughout the world that should be used when searching for victims or fire under fire
conditions. These are the 2-in-2-out policies, which highlight the need for safety and back-up
teams, guideline search protocols, and search patterns. The manuals issued are not readily
updated, such as a loose leaf binder would be, nor do they carry the dates of the latest
revisions. It appears that the manuals have been in use for extended periods of time with no
revisions.
Instruction was not observed where the students are taught the proper way of
stretching hoselines or opening bulkhead doors. Instruction in the proper use of personal
protective equipment (PPE) was not observed and in Mumbai it was not available for use by
the students. It was the opinion of the author that the reason for this in Mumbai was two-fold:
1) Ambient temperatures and the restrictive nature of the PPE, and; 2) cost of supplying PPE
(US$ 1,000 per set). In Manila, the PPE was used at most facilities, but used improperly at
those using it except at the Admiral Maritime Training Institute.
In Croatia, the training observed was at the high school level. Firefighting facilities
were poor, and firefighting equipment used for training was limited. A lack of attention to
safety was also noted. A comment was made by the Director of Pomorska Skola Zadar that
there was no system in place to train officers in Croatia. Students were sent to sea after the
high school level to obtain experience as seamen and then work towards becoming officers.

26

In Poland, the academic standards observed were very high, but the firefighting
practical training was of poor quality. Firefighting equipment used was outdated and limited
in number. The facilities were of poor quality and a lack of attention to safety was noted.
At the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) in
Egypt, the overall facilities were well kept and relatively modern with a full range of full time
and short courses available. The training was at the college level and had firefighting
equipment available for training, but only minimal live-burn training was given and this
training did not simulate actual conditions. The extent of the live-burn training was dictated
by the proximity of the training area to the main classroom facilities of the college.

2) What techniques and tactics currently used by land-based firefighters could be


employed by VELA personnel with regard to firefighting on board ships?

The literature review found that there are many techniques and tactics currently
employed by land-based firefighters that could be used by marine personnel when fighting
fires on board ships. These are:

Rapid Intervention Teams


Rapid intervention is necessary not only for the fire service but should be considered
by any emergency response organization whose personnel enter environments that can
place their lives and health in immediate danger (Jakubowski & Morton, 2001, p. 5).
The reasons why land-based firefighters become victims in fire incidents are
applicable in a marine environment when ships crews are fighting fires on board their ships.

27

The mission of the rapid intervention team (RIT) is to search for and remove trapped
firefighters (Coleman, 1997, p. 287).

Accountability
Accountability of personnel operating within a hazard area should be maintained. To
ensure safe operations whilst using BA [Breathing Apparatus] it essential that effective
control procedures must be employed. Control procedures must be implemented as soon as
the decision is taken to use BA (Fire Service College, 1999, p. 4).
A good accountability system is going to help you manage your incidents more
effectively (Gerner & Schaper, 1998, p. 1). The MARC is a polling system to verify that all
firefighters operating at a fire are safe and accounted for (Gerner & Schaper, 1998).
One of the key items to address in the event a firefighter is trapped or missing is to
know who and how many you are looking for (Norman, 1991, p. 523). Accountability
systems may be as simple as a tag with a number that corresponds to an individual or may
involve handing a nametag to an officer who may then place the name in a book or on a
board. Other accountability systems may be more elaborate and involve computer bar coding
to track firefighters (IFSTA, 2001).
The key points are that an accountability system of some sort must be used during
major emergency incidents and everyone involved in the incident must understand the
system and follow its guidelines (IFSTA, 2001, p. 188). The use of an additional level of
accountability such as a breathing apparatus control board must be used for personnel
operating within a vessel and using BA (IFSTA, 2001).

28

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)


Standard Operating Procedures are written policies, procedures, and/or guidelines that
clearly spell out what is expected and required of personnel during every emergency
response and non-emergency activities (FEMA, 1998). The literature review of VELA
documents found that SOPs existed but were limited in nature to positions to be taken in the
event of emergencies or how to operate and maintain specific equipment. SOPs should be
developed to more specifically address marine firefighting duties just as an engine company
SOP would for land-based firefighters.
Rubin, Peterson and Phillips (June 2001) believe that Following established
procedures will typically facilitate safe and effective operations (p.49). They further state that
Intentional or incidental departure from standard operating procedures is often the first link in
the accident chain (Rubin et al., June 2001).

3) What technological improvements currently employed by land-based firefighters


could be used by VELA personnel to assist with firefighting on board ships?

The literature review found the following technological improvements used by land-based
firefighters could be used by VELA personnel to assist with firefighting on board ships:

Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS)


Personal alert safety systems (PASS) sound an audible alarm for help if the wearer is
unable to do so (NFPA, 1997, p. 10-213). PASS will monitor the motion of a firefighter and
activate an audible alarm when motion is undetected for more than 30 seconds (NFPA,

29

2001). These devices [PASS] should become as mandatory as breathing apparatus


(Norman, 1991, p. 525).

Thermal Imaging Cameras (TIC)


Many things have changed over the years regarding firefighting but one facet that has
remained unchanged is limited visibility. TICs have special sensors that are able to pick up
heat waves emitting from objects and convert these heat waves to light waves (MFTE, n.d.).
TICs help firefighters by identifying potential hazards before firefighters reach them
and by making it easier to locate victims (Jakubowski & Morton, 2001). A primary purpose of
thermal imaging is to enhance safety (MFTE, n.d.).

4) What additional training could be performed by VELA to improve the quality and
efficiency of their personnel in responding to fires on board their ships?

VELA should conduct additional training in basic firefighting and in particular, selfcontained breathing apparatus. It was noted by the author during the visits to marine
firefighting schools that a major deficiency was in the area of SCBA training. SCBA training
was either non-existent or limited. Upon arriving on board a ship, a crewmember must be
familiar and proficient with his/her firefighting equipment.
Training conducted at training facilities as well as on board ship should simulate as much
as practical the training environment that will be encountered. Crandell (1996) feels that
training in context gives continual support to those skills that should be essentially

30

automatic, such as donning PPE [personal protective equipment] and SCBA [self-contained
breathing apparatus] (p. 171).
Crew resource management training would assist the crews of VELA during emergency
operations or could prevent such emergencies from occurring. At the time of this report,
there was no CRM program established at VELA. Comprehensive CRM programs consider
the types of tasks and the environmental and organizational elements that tend to induce
human errors, seeking to minimize the frequency and/or severity of these errors at the
earliest stage (Veillette, 1998).
Thomas Lubnau and Randy Okray (2001) report that Crew resource management is a
force multiplier- that is to say, it acts to energize and synergize elements that already exist in
the individual and multiplies them so that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts (p.99).
Originally employed in the aviation industry, the concepts of CRM can be applied to
firefighting to achieve greater efficiency and safety (Lubnau and Okray, 2001). CRM refers
to the effective use of all available resources, people, equipment, time and information
(Lubnau & Okray, 2001, p.99).

DISCUSSION

The results of this research clearly indicate the need for additional training for VELA
personnel in marine firefighting. There is no question that the evaluation of marine firefighting
facilities indicated this need. The author found that there was a broad spectrum of quality
while still meeting the requirements of the IMOs International Convention on Standards of

31

Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW95). At the facilities visited,
the courses have followed the guidelines required by their respective governments.
Training varied between the Philippines, India, Croatia, and Poland with the greatest
emphasis appearing to be placed on firefighting in the Philippines. In all locations there is no
evidence that the trainees attending firefighting courses are being exposed to, or trained to
deal with the physical challenges they could expect to encounter during a fire within the
internal structure of a vessel. In dealing with a fire, other than a very minor fire, within the
steel structure of a vessel, those on board tasked with firefighting and/or rescue could expect
to encounter extreme heat and thick smoke. If not trained for such conditions, the
crewmembers may be psychologically unprepared to handle the situation. Additional training
that simulates real emergencies needs to be conducted. Brian Crandell (1996) in Training in
Context, highlights that firefighters will perform as they learned when operating under stress.
Based on this, Crandell (1996) believes that the training environment should re-create the
context and content of the environment in which firefighters are expected to perform (p. 169).
SCBA entry control should be utilized for the safety and efficiency of the firefighting
teams. To ensure safe operations whilst [sic] using BA [Breathing Apparatus] it essential that
effective control procedures must be employed. Control procedures must be implemented as
soon as the decision is taken to use BA (Fire Service College, 1999, p. 4).
There was no emphasis placed on entry control at any of the firefighting schools
visited and the varied makes and models of SCBA used could cause difficulty when using a
different model of SCBA during a fire or emergency. The greatest weakness observed at all
facilities and the one most likely to affect shipboard firefighting effectiveness was breathing
apparatus training. It was either non-existent or limited at best. The training observed was

32

not equal to what a land-based firefighter would receive, but yet the need for breathing
apparatus use is essential for shipboard firefighting and can mean the difference between
success and failure.
In most facilities visited, the principle training staff were either ex-ships officers or exnaval petty officers. The author wonders whether the background and experience of the
trainers could allow the creation of a safe but realistic fire condition within the ship mock-ups
that would prepare emergency teams to deal with conditions likely to be encountered on
board a ship during a fire. In some facilities throughout the world, training is carried out by
professional firefighters who have the background and experience required to safely create
such conditions.
The literature review highlighted technologies employed by land-based firefighters that
could also be used by crews on board ships to assist them with firefighting and make the
operations safer.
TICs help firefighters by identifying potential hazards before firefighters reach them
and by making it easier to locate victims (Jakubowski & Morton, 2001). A primary purpose of
thermal imaging is to enhance safety (MFTE, n.d.). At no school visited was thermal imaging
demonstrated or used. This technology developed by the U. S. Navy and now widely used
by land based firefighters is the one item that has most changed the methods of firefighting
and made it safer and more efficient. With a thermal-imaging camera, firefighters can see
through total darkness created by smoke and with pinpoint accuracy locate victims and the
seat of the fire. It allows firefighters to see ladders and passageways unable to be viewed by
the naked eye. These cameras change heat waves into light waves and can differentiate
differences in temperature of 1/10 of 1 degree.

33

PASS make firefighting safer by allowing firefighters in distress to signal the need for
help either manually or automatically. These devices emit an audible signal that helps other
firefighters locate the firefighter in need of help. These devices should become as mandatory
as breathing apparatus (Norman, 1991, p. 525).

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the supporting information in the evaluation of marine training facilities used
by VELA junior officers, the following recommendations are made to guide VELA Marine
International in selecting the marine firefighting training facilities:

The Admiral Maritime Training Institute should be the primary facility used by VELA
for the training of junior officers and crews. The attention to detail as well as the
safety was clearly demonstrated. The course materials were professional as well
as the classroom environment. The knowledge of the staff was demonstrated.

The Far East and the Consolidated schools may also be considered for training of
VELA officers and crews. Course materials were professional and a commitment
to safety was demonstrated.

The Philippine Seafarer Training Center should not be considered for use because
of the lack of safety and the poor quality of the facilities and instructors.

The Philippine Nautical School should not be considered. While the training facility
is adequate, the complete disregard for safety and the carelessness of the training
should limit the use of this facility by any company.

34

Of the three schools visited in Mumbai, India, any one can be used for training.
The Shipping Corporation of India Maritime Training appears to be slightly better
equipped to perform firefighting training.

The training schools in Croatia and Poland should not be considered for firefighting
training. While the technical training is adequate, the practical training is ineffective
due to poor facilities and equipment.

The following additional recommendations are made regarding firefighting aboard


VELA ships based on the Libra Star report, observations made at the firefighting schools
visited, supporting information in the literature review and the knowledge and experience of
the author:

Increased training in firefighting should be conducted after a crewmember boards


VELA ships to overcome deficiencies in training that the crew receives on shore.
The varied training standards observed and the lack of attention to detail noted by
the author requires that increased training of firefighting be conducted and
standardized firefighting techniques for VELA ships be developed.

Develop standardized firefighting procedures for VELA crews with a standardized


fire training manual.

An SCBA manual and SOP should be developed and given to all crew members
when they report aboard a VELA ship. This manual should describe the SCBA
currently used and the methods of testing, inspection, donning, and doffing the unit.

Firefighting and rescue drills on board ships should be guided by a standard


operating procedure that will allow for a uniform method of delivery. Drills should

35

be made as realistic as possible and test the complete firefighting procedures


including the rotation of personnel and the filling of SCBA cylinders during
simulated emergency conditions.

SCBA entry control standard operating procedures should be developed and


standardized aboard all VELA ships. This will allow for better efficiency and safety
during fires and emergencies. The use of SCBA entry control should be used at all
times while SCBA is in use.

Thermal Imaging Cameras should be purchased for use aboard VELA ships. This
technology will enhance the firefighting capabilities of crews aboard the vessels,
and may mean the difference between an entry into a smoke filled environment
and non-entry.

PASS devices should be purchased for use with SCBA. These devices will
enhance the safety of members in a hazardous environment and allow an audible
distress signal to be transmitted from the unit.

The concept of crew resource management should be evaluated further by VELA


to determine its applicability in improving the teamwork and response to a fire
incident on board a VELA ship.

The IFSTA manual Marine Fire Fighting (2000) states that Of all the perils at sea, one
of the most frightening is fire. Difficult to deal with and devastating in its effects, fire at sea
leaves the mariner caught between two unforgiving elements (p. 1). Fires on board ships
can be both complex to deal with and at times may test the expertise of firefighters and their
physical endurance (HM Fire Service Inspectorate [Home Office], 1999, p. ix).

36

The author believes that by the implementation of the above recommendations, VELA
will be better able to meet the challenge of fighting a fire on board one of their ships.

37

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