17 Jan 2014
Crew response to fire brings support for safety training
By Lulu Trask
Images of a fire on board Feadship’s 65m superyacht Callisto have initiated discussions on the level of safety training for crew. The images, sent to SuperyachtNews.com, were taken over the festive period and whilst damage is evident, the images suggest the fire and, from what the images purport, vessel damage were contained.
Steve Monk, managing director of safety training provider Da Gama Maritime, shared his views of the incident with SuperyachtNews.com. “I’ve gleaned some intelligence from other sources about what happened but as neither are confirmed from the yacht I don’t want to speculate. Albeit, what looks to have happened is [there was] a good response from the crew to put the fire out quickly and stop it spreading, while at the same time protecting the remainder of the yacht from the heat which was no doubt generated.”
It is rare to find examples of well-contained superyacht fires, as this example seems to demonstrate, and during a time that has seen crew training and crew quality come under fire, so to speak, this incident is a homage to the current level of school of crew safety training – that is, the STCW 95 fire prevention and fire fighting as well as continuous on board training – and it is the latter that the industry is praising in the aftermath of the Callisto fire.
“Training ashore covers the STCW requirements for yacht and personnel safety but is, by its very nature, generic. The skills gained in the initial fire fighting training are further enhanced by regular and well-conducted drills, required by maritime law [under] MGN 71, which are essentially exercised to ensure crew maintain a high level of readiness for this sort of emergency in their own environment. That will result in well-run yachts having a well-prepared fire party ready to tackle fire quickly and effectively, and thus avoiding a possible catastrophic outcome of the event,” explained business development manager of Warsash Superyacht Academy, Lars Lippuner.
Monk believes that this particular incident acts as a reminder to look at the time we as an industry spend examining the skills of crew in this arena, following their completion of the basic STCW course. “Perhaps it’s only when faced with a real emergency that the reason for running exercises and drills becomes apparent. Following incidents recently on well-known and professionally operated yachts, it is always worthwhile taking a serious look at just how much time is spent examining and testing the skills and abilities of the crew to rest assured they understand how to operate and use the fire fighting equipment on board, to bond as a team and know what the priorities of the captain are.
"Attempting to mould this into busy work schedules around guest and owner charters can often be difficult but when a fire does break out, time is limited to respond and those who react instinctively with calm professionalism are likely to extinguish the fire more quickly, with minimal damage and, more importantly, maintaining the safety of those on board. Ideally, to aid industry training, actions taken should be recorded immediately after the incident and, where possible, passed to training centres to allow others to identify the lessons learned.”
From 2017 the STCW Manila Amendments will require refresher fire-fighting training every five years so the industry can be confident that, should fires occur, we will be presented with similar, well-contained incidents. It is encouraging to find ourselves presented with an example of crew reaction in an exemplary way, and we can hope that this incident will be a reminder to the captains, crew, training providers and flag states of the importance of ongoing on board training, even outside of the Manila Amendments’ requirements.
Images courtesy of Alan Peacock.
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