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The vessel where you are posted as Chief Engineer is undergoing drydocking and a serious fire occurs on the deck because of welding work?

1. According to the ISM code the company should make documented procedures to identify describe and respond to potential emergency shipboard situations. The company should establish programme for drills and exercises to prepare for emergency actions. The safety Management System (SMS) should provide for measures ensuring that the company’s organization can respond at any time to hazards accidents and emergency situations involving its ships.

2. As the fire fighting is to carried out on the deck of a ship in dry dock there are several hurdles to fire fighting. Major jobs are being carried out, thus most primary muster stations may not be suitable for muster log. Also, some repairs may be in progress on the vessels general emergency alarm system and thus alarm may not be available there is a possibility that some ships crew have availed of shore leave. Also, several shore gangs are working at different locations ships fire fighting appliances may have gone ashore for pr. Testing/recharging. Hence above points to be taken into account whilst devising a suitable plan.

3. It is also stated in SMS manuals documentation that the master make it clear to the ship repairer that its his responsibility for taking suitable precautions against fire, testing and certification of spaces prior to any hot work. There has to be in place a clear written agreement to the effect and an acknowledgement of the acceptance of their responsibility to be provided to the ship owner/master.

4. To ensure proper safety against fire and fire fighting to be effective the vessel management must also familiarize/acquaint with the Dock employers fire safety plan, equipment and abilities which must include the following information. Identification of significant fire hazards Procedures for recognizing and reporting unsafe conditions (fire patrols, designated and non designated areas for hot work checklist etc).

Alarm procedures
  1. Procedures for notifying employees of a fire emergency
  2. Procedure for notifying fire response department of a fire emergency
  3. Procedure for evacuation.
  4. Procedure to account for employees after evacuation
  5. Fire response policy- Information Whether 

  • Initial fire response
  • Outside fire response
  • A combination of both above required during a particular type of fire.

Rescue and Emergency response.

5. And also following points to be considered while developing a contingency plan to fight fire on board.
  • Suitable muster station for all teams to be declared made aware at the beginning of day along with planning and allocation of other jobs.
  • Status of general emergency alarm to be checked and declared/made aware/ familiarize to ship staff and shore employees.
  • Equipment for communication with dock (telephone) to be conspicuously marked and numbers for emergency services and fire department to be highlighted.
  • Officers at management level to be familiar with dock evacuation procedure, shore fighting abilities, fire fighting plan equipment and dock emergency alarm.
  • Logs of attendance 1 each for vessel and yard employees to be maintained specifying names of employees with jobs, location and in out times to avoid chaos during head count.
6. Considering the above underlying concepts a suitable fire fighting plan would be as follows:
  • Personnel witnessing the fire to shout fire, fire and raise general alarm and inform and relay to command team of nature and location of fire and whatever information available.
  • If possible also inform/alert clock fire department personnel muster at suitable muster station command team/Technical team to inform Dock fire department. (if not already informed)
  • Take head count, check logs (Attendance) stop all work.
  • In case of fire on Deck Emergency team I (headed by C/officer) to lead fire fighting and in case of E/R fire Emergency Team II to lead fire fighting Emergency Team II to lead fire fighting while other emergency team will back up.
  • Emergency Team I to lead fire fighting to check fire line pressure, contain extinguish fire.
  • To evacuate casualties if any.
  • To liase with Dock fire fighting department if already present and to assist them in fire fighting with logistics and shipboard plans etc. asses damage and possibility of secondary fire.
  • Back up team: To provide boundary cooling where required.
  • Provide equipment back up.
  • Restrict flame by removing flammable item.
  • Evacuate casualties and shore personnel.
  • Support team: To evacuate personnel and to provide first aid to injured.
  • Assist as directed.
  • Technical team: To cut of necessary electrical supplies to cut of shore pneumatic lines. Stop vents oils valves drain oil lines etc.


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