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Friday, 2 October 2009

Marine Engineering 101, Part 2

The saga continues.

Glossary:

FE.......................Filthy Engineer (Me)
Bow....................Pointy bit at the front end of the ship.
Stern..................Blunt bit at the back of the ship.
Poop Deck.........At the back, and the only place to have a fag.
MCR...................Machinery Control Room.
HQ1....................Part of the MCR where firefighting and DC incidents are controlled from
DC.......................Damage control.
R.O. Plant..........Magical fresh water making equipment.
Down below.......Nautical term for Downstairs.
Up Top...............Nautical term for upstairs.
Smokoe..............Strange name meaning Tea break.
Bilge....................A sort of drain trap for fluids.
UMS....................Unmanned space.
OIC......................Officer in charge
BA........................Breathing Apparatus
FRPP...................Fire and repair party post.

Well we had got to 1630 hadn't we?

1630. Fire detection alarm starts sounding throughout the vessel. (Vessel is another name for a ship). It's the weekly exercise.

FE heads rapidly to the FRPP, it looks bad if the OIC is the last to arrive, when he is probably the head of all matters dedicated to firefighting and damage control. (HQ1 would disagree).

First job is to commence a muster of personnel, in order to ensure that no-one is missing. Not as easy as it may appear, most seaman are loud except when they are being mustered, then they seem to lose their voices.

The FRPP consists of about 20 persons and all have been allocated various tasks by the FE. OIC(FE), 2IC, Incident board marker, Communications number, Two 5 man BA teams complete with control number, and a few spares. (The glossary in case you've forgotten)

(if you're bored, please feel free to leave, unfortunately onboard ship we can't leave)(I saw you sneaking out Mummylonglegs)**

By this time the location of the pretend fire has been broadcast over the ship's system and the incident board marker is doodling on his incident board for me to peruse.

First rule of shipboard firefighting is to send the first two BA men dressed to the scene to assist those who are initially attacking the fire. This strategy is called an aggressive rolling attack. It's accepted doctrine that if you cannot control the incident within 8 minutes from the start, then you are completely f*ck*d. Then you send the rest who hopefully put the fire out.

One of the biggest problems with the above is the amount of equipment that the teams have to don. Firesuit, boots, BA, thermal imaging camera for the team leader ( we have more on this one ship than most county fire brigades have), wedge for propping opening doors, torches, Helmets with built in communications. All this has to be checked before FE can release the teams into the wild. It gets very close to the 8 minutes.

The worst part of it all, is that once I have despatched the teams, is the thought, did I send them fully briefed, equipped, and have I sufficiently trained them? Being the OIC is a shit place to be.

For the sake of brevity, this exercise went well. We train hard as in the worst case scenario we have a major fire, in force 10 weather. Where do we go? A lifeboat in those conditions is suicide.

"Bump in the night" will be resumed in part three "FE the movie"

** Shameless plug.

1 comment:

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