The possibility of fire aboard the ship or elsewhere within the dockyard complex is always unwelcome, but the fact remains it is a possibility at virtually any time of day or night. In the event that the possibility becomes reality, common sense and past training should automatically come into the equation.
As with any other fire incident the alarm should be raised as soon as possible after the discovery of the fire and the following procedure is suggested. Assuming that the crew have remained on board and the fire is on board the vessel, after the alarm has been raised:
- Muster an emergency fire party and attempt to contain and extinguish the fire immediately following its discovery.
- Non-essential personnel should be evacuated to the shore and the fire brigade should be contacted.
- A gangway watch should be set to ensure that the access to the vessel is not blocked which as such would deny accessibility to fire fighters.
- The minimum water volume should be used when tackling fires in dry dock because of the stability dangers, while on the blocks. The possibility of shoring is directly affected by heat or flame which, combined with excessive water volumes, could cause the vessel to move from the blocks.
- The ship’s sides should be cooled, especially in way of the shores. These must not be allowed to become dislodged by the effects of fire and the heat effects on the steel hull.
- Any gas bottles should be removed as appropriate to a position of safety. Gas bottles are extremely hazardous, and susceptible to explosion when in contact with excessive heat.
- Fire water supply is an established necessity on docking but should be investigated and confirmed as unlimited should the need arise (bearing in mind that the ship’s sea suctions are of no avail in a dry dock).
- Provided the affected space is not open and exposed for repairs, the use of CO2 is preferable to water as a fire-fighting option. The admission of water into the docked vessel is highly undesirable and its use if possible should be restricted to boundary cooling of decks and the shell sides.