The purpose of carrying out any kind of drill on the ships is to make the crew acquainted with various procedures to be followed during emergency situations.
It is a way to make the ship personnel acquainted with the equipment and methods that are to be used during a crises situation.
Fire drill is one such drill which holds great importance on ships. It helps the ship’s crew to understand the basics of fire prevention and also help with the following:
- To prepare the crew in dealing with an emergency situation that may arise because of a fire on board ship.
- It makes each and every crew familiar with the task he or she has to perform in case of actual emergency.
- To train the crew in using fire fighting appliances such as SCBA, different types of fire extinguishers, CO2 flooding system, Neil Robertson Stretcher, Inert Gas System, fireman’s outfit, life jackets, sprinkler system etc.
- Helps the crew to understand the procedure to operate a particular fire fighting system and precautions that are to be taken before operating the equipment. For e.g. there are certain imperative steps that need to be carried out before starting the CO2 fire fighting system for the engine room.
- To make the crew acquainted with the location of the emergency escape routes which would be used in case of inaccessibility of a particular zone
- To familiarize the crew with company’s fire and safety regulations, important points on personal safety and survival at the sea, recent safety circulars and M notices, and fire fighting appliances and preventive measures on ships
It is extremely important that the fire drill is carried out in as realistic manner as possible in order to make the crew aware of the situations that might arise during fire on ships.
Important points regarding fire drills on ships
- According to the merchant shipping act, muster and drills must be according out at regular intervals of time as stated by the company and law.
- A fire drill must be conducted within 24 hours of leaving the port if more than 25% of the crew members have not taken part in the drill in the previous month.
- Muster list for the drill should be displayed throughout the ship in locations where the list can be easily accessed. The list should also be displayed at the bridge, engine room, and crew accommodation area.
- A clear fire control plan should be properly displaced in important areas throughout the ship
- Each and every crew member should be provided with clear instructions which he or she would follow during emergency. The duties of each member along with the assigned life boat number must be written on individual cards and made available inside/outside the cabin.
- The timing of the emergency drills should be changed in order to change scenarios and allow those crew members to participate who have not attended the previous dill because of duties.
- The location of the drills should also be changed to give practice to the crew in different conditions and to train them to tackle different types of fire such as machinery space fire, accommodation area fire, store room fire, cargo hold fire etc.
- The location of the muster station should be such that it is readily accessible from the accommodation and work place and is also close to the embarkation station. It should also have sufficient lights provided from emergency source.
- Each area of the ship has a different method of approach to deal with during emergency situations. Training with drills in different situations helps to prepare crew members for all types of situations.
- It is the duty of every ship personnel to get himself acquainted with the location of the emergency muster station upon joining the ship. He should also know his duties which are described in the muster list and learn how to use fire fighting appliances.
- The training manual, which contains instructions and information regarding life saving appliances and methods of survival, should be provided in each crew mess and recreation room.
- Every new crew member should be given on board training, which explains use of personal life saving appliances and survival crafts (life boats and life rafts), not later than two weeks after joining the ship.
It is important that each and every crew member performs the drill without making any mistake by memorizing his duties and understanding the important of safety of the ship and the people on board.