A few comments. And I’m not nitpicking the crew of this vessel. They put the fire out without casualties and that’s all that counts. But I have studied the history of shipboard fires, and I teach marine firefighting and run a large simulator, so I have an interest in the subject. There are common threads that run through case histories. A few come up again in this NTSB report:
The first and second engineers headed to their emergency squad locker at safety
storeroom B. Once there, the second engineer opened the closest engine room door
which was a few feet away…and saw flames… Realizing the severity of the fire, he and
the first engineer donned firefighter outfits and SCBAs, then attempted to use ABC
portable fire extinguishers to quell the fire through the engine room door.
Opening a door to a compartment involved in fire, before suiting-up, is Russian roulette. You might win, but when you lose, you lose big. Example: the F/V Galaxy fire, where opening a door by unprotected personnel led to casualties.
To escape the smoke that was filling the bridge and the alarms whose noise
prevented clear communication, the captain transferred navigational control of the
vessel to the starboard bridge wing station, where he was able to control the vessel and
communicate, primarily using UHF radio, with the chief mate and emergency squad
Classic marine firefighting: smoke clears out all the interior spaces lickety-split, driving captain and crew out on deck about as fast as they can put their pants on. This should be treated as the rule and not the exception, and drills and training should reflect this.
…the second engineer and the two ABs from emergency squad 1, who all had donned firefighter outfits and SCBAs, made two separate entries… The attack team advanced into the space about 6 feet, but they realized the fire was “too much."…decided to prepare for a CO2 release into the space…
Mounting a direct attack before using the fixed system has led to casualties. But I can’t recall an example where using the fixed system before a direct attack led to anyone getting hurt. So the question is, Why aren’t marine firefighters taught to set off the fixed system first, and then afterwards consider direct attack? On vessels with emergency fire pumps setting off the fixed system is usually the safest, quickest, and most efficient route.
There are exceptions of course. What may be prudent at sea may not be prudent in a narrow strait. But the fixed system will accomplish a fraction of the time, without water damage, what a direct attack can take hours to accomplish.
Again, I’m not nitpicking this crew. They got the fire out without casualties, so kudos to them.