25 Jun 2012

The Importance of Fire Drills On Ships

An article by Marine Insight.

The purpose of carrying out any kind of drills 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 skill 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 systems, fireman's outfit, life jackets, sprinkler systems etc
  • Helps crew to understand the procedure to operate a particular fire fighting system and precautions that are to be taken before operating the equipment.  For example, there are certain imperative steps that need to be carried out before starting the CO2 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 the 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 drills are 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 completed 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 displayed in important areas throughout the ship
  • Every crew member should be provided with clear instructions which he or she would follow during an emergency
  • The timing of emergency drills should be changed in order to change scenarios and allow those crew members to participate who have not attended previous drills due to other 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 are fire, store room fire, cargo hold etc
  • 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 scenarios
  • It is the duty of every ship personnel to get him/herself acquainted with the location of the emergency muster station upon joining the ship.  They should know their 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 the use of personal life saving equipment and survival crafts, no later than two weeks after joining the ship

It is important that each and every crew member performs the drill without making any mistakes by memorizing their duties and understanding the importance of ship safety and the people on board. 

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