Safety Alert: Familiarising Fire Emergency Responders with Vessels, Ports and Terminals
The investigation has started into the fire on board the Grande Costa D’Avorio – in which two firefighters tragically lost their lives. While we wait to learn from the results, ICHCA Technical panel members have discussed ways ports and terminals may help protect emergency responders as well as crew and port workers in the event of a fire.
It is not possible to cover all emergency response planning in a safety alert so we have chosen to focus in this alert on vessel familiarisation. Several members host familiarisation visits with firefighters invited to safely walk a vessel deck and learn firsthand the environments in which they might have to fight a fire. These visits can enhance dialogue between the parties, identify risk and help clarify practical differences between fighting fires on vessels and on land. Members recognise that firefighters are the experts when it comes to fighting fires; familiarisation visits can help reduce risk to these professionals when do their work.
Potential benefits of familiarisation exercises can include refining and testing your incident Response, Control, Infrastructure and Resource Planning.
Related content: Fire Aboard Vehicle Carrier Höegh Xiamen
In 2022, we spotlighted the US National Transportation Safety Board report into a fire on the Höegh Xiamen. It concluded that the fire was ‘likely caused by an electrical arc or component fault in one of the used vehicles loaded on deck 8’. In that incident, 9 firefighters heroically responding were injured. Superficially at least, there are similarities in the two cases, both vehicle carriers loaded with previously owned vehicles and generating fires that were difficult to bring under control. Until we know more about the Grande Costa D’Avorio incident, it is risky to assume. However we think it is worth readers considering their own emergency plans in light of the learning from the Höegh Xiamen incident if they have not already done so.
We are grateful to the US National Transportation Safety Board for providing details of the Höegh Xiamen incident. We acknowledge their commitment to sharing learning to benefit others. If you have similar operations, please share this information with managers, operatives and any potentially affected third parties as appropriate. Please also review any of your relevant operations for similar hazardous conditions, risks, and controls. Learning content like this is highly valuable as it is based on real-world experience. We encourage everyone with publishable information about incidents to send it to us, so that we can raise awareness across the whole industry. Please contact us at email@example.com; sharing your insight could save a life or prevent injury.