The prospect of a fire breaking out on a seafaring vessel is frightening. While taking preventive measures is vital, knowing how to react quickly and effectively in the event of a fire is equally crucial.
Proper preparation is critical. Fire extinguishers, blankets and other equipment should be easily accessible and well-maintained. Regular drills and training sessions can help ensure everyone onboard knows how to use them properly.
Implement immediate containment measures
If a fire breaks out, the first step is to contain it as quickly as possible. Close all doors and hatches leading to the area where the fire has occurred. Use fire extinguishers or other firefighting tools to suppress the flames. Remember that you should act swiftly, but don’t become frantic. You should have at least basic training on shipboard fire response, so let that training kick in.
Activate the alarm and inform key personnel.
Once you’ve taken immediate action to contain the fire, activate the vessel’s fire alarm system to alert everyone onboard. Contact the ship’s captain or officer-in-charge to let them about the situation. They will decide on the next steps, which may include further fire response, performing damage assessments, or evacuating the vessel.
Preventing and treating burns onboard
Burns are a common injury associated with shipboard fires. It’s essential to take preventive measures, like avoiding loose clothing near open flames or hot surfaces. Always use protective gear when working with potential fire hazards, and exercise extreme caution when handling flammable materials.
If someone does sustain a burn, immediate first aid measures can make a significant difference. Unfortunately, appropriate medical care likely isn’t readily available if the vessel is out to sea. While it’s possible to contact the Coast Guard for medical evacuation, that’s often a lengthy process, depending on the current weather.