Advanced marine fire exercises prepare firefighters for real life scenarios

By District Staff on Friday, Aug 2, 2019

DNV Fire and Rescue Services firefighters are recognized as industry leaders due to their extensive range of safety and rescue abilities, from car and structure fire fighting to swift water and high angle rope rescue. Now, they can add 'fire and rescue at sea' to their growing list of skills.

This past June, 12 of our firefighters set off into Burrard Inlet on a Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue boat. Joined by colleagues from other North Shore fire departments, DNV partners, and North Shore agencies, the groups embarked on three days of intensive hands-on marine firefighting exercises put on by the Justice Institute of BC.

Training calls for simulations, drills, and strategy

Blending theory with practical training, the marine firefighting program provides municipal fire departments with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a number of emergencies that can occur on the water. This includes situations like ship fires, 'man overboard', and more.

The first day of the course is centred on working through simulated scenarios, followed by two more days of practical exercises.

Focusing on situations that make rescues extremely difficult and dangerous to perform, the training challenges firefighters to think strategically and collaborate with fellow partners and agencies.

Practicing collaboration and clear communication

We witnessed firsthand how much hard work, collaboration, and determination goes into acquiring a new set of skills such as these when observing participants on the second day.

In the training scenario we watched, participants boarded a ship that was under construction. The ship had caught fire, and the firefighters' job was to locate the source of the blaze and put it out.

To make the exercise as complex and true-to-life as possible, billowing theatrical smoke hindered the firefighters' ability to see and navigate through low-hanging wires and other unsafe elements typically found on a ship under construction.

By working as a team, communicating clearly with each other, and relying on existing and newly learned skills, they were able to locate and extinguish the fire quickly and safely.

Working together to build more skills

As a proactive emergency services agency focused on the safety and well-being of our community, DNVFRS is always looking for opportunities to acquire new skills such as these, and different ways to partner with other response agencies to ensure we are able to recover from potential emergencies.

This training course — the second of three scheduled for 2019 — is an excellent example of that collaborative spirit.

How partner agencies work together in emergency situations

Hosted and sponsored by Seaspan Vancouver shipyards, multiple agencies participated in the training course including:

  • North Vancouver City Fire Department
  • District of West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services
  • Vancouver Fire and Rescue
  • Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue
  • Vancouver Police Department Marine Unit

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