DVIDS – News – NRMA fire and emergency services complete integrated fire drill with ship and local firefighters


Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire & Emergency Services (NRMA F&ES), Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Fire Stations 5, 6 and 30 collaborated with the Naval Forces of the USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) and the service of Virginia Beach fire recently conducted an integrated fire drill.

Although managing a fire on board a ship is a big undertaking, the intention of recent exercises has been to deal with the evolution of certain parts. Once the foundations of integrated communications and command structure are established, the focus will be on long-term operations in case the suppression system fails and the first strike assets cannot contain the fire.

The exercise had several objectives:
• Determine the ability of the ship’s forces to identify and isolate a fire, report the fire, mobilize additional resources, initiate the initial attack by the fire and properly use the fire suppression system. on board the ship.
• Test the integration of tactical forces from the ship’s crew, Navy Fire, Norfolk and Virginia Beach Fire Departments.
• Test the integration of command structures and the unified command configuration
• Test integrated communications.

“After reading the report on the findings of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) fire that destroyed the ship in July, Navy Fire and local ships had similar concerns, and we are very interested in reviewing our procedures and our ability to integrate, said Cedric Patterson, NRMA F&ES Deputy Fire Chief.

Crawl, walk then run

The exploration phase began in July with a meeting with Navy firefighters, Virginia Beach fire departments and ship personnel to discuss the report’s findings. The meeting determined an action plan for the Whidbey Island exercise.

A familiarization visit to the ship was carried out in November with all the partners to provide everyone with a common operating image. The initial exercise took place on December 6.

“The familiarization journey allowed all parties to discuss their respective procedures and identify any procedural, communication or accountability gaps prior to the in-person exercise,” said Patterson.

“This is the first time that I know of, that we have been training on this scale with a local vessel since the BHR fire,” said Patterson, “we are taking their lessons learned as a starting point.”

During the march phase, the three agencies tested their ability to establish three-way communications, a functional incident command structure, as well as an integrated fire attack team made up of members of each agency.

The incident command structure is important because it provides a standardized approach to the command, control and coordination of emergency response by establishing a common hierarchy. It provides an integrated organizational structure that reflects the complexity and requirements of single or multiple incidents, without being hampered by jurisdictional boundaries.

Establishing a fire response team is important as it assigns staff from all three organizations to assign tasks and assignments.

“One of the gaps identified in preplanning was the maintenance of accountability,” Patterson said. “It is imperative that everyone on board the ship is taken into account as well as all those responding to the fire. During this phase, we developed and tested a system to take into account the location and assignment of all stakeholders on board. In addition to accountability, it was essential that we set up a dedicated communication channel.

“The execution phase will be a broad exercise that will encompass broader objectives that include the ability to sustain operations,” Patterson said.

“Our goal was to practice the integration of three high-level but separate teams: USS Whidbey Island, JEBLC-FS Fire Department and Virginia Beach Fire Department,” said Lt. jg Drew Hendricks, public affairs officer for the USS Whidbey Island. “Overall, the goal was to preemptively practice our communication and coordinated response efforts. Then, to identify areas of friction and develop individual and collective goals for future improvement.
“We have met and exceeded our goals! That’s not to say it’s been a perfectly smooth exercise, but we have identified unforeseen challenges that we can now collectively resolve and work to prevent in the future, ”said Hendricks. “We are eager to test our improvements on a future drill rig. This exercise and efforts like it cannot be more important right now. In light of what we as a community, both in the military and as a maintenance community, are learning from the tragic loss of Bonhomme Richard, this is a loss we cannot allow us to happen twice. So we will continue to practice – not until we get it right, but until we can’t go wrong. ”

The exercise, held on Dec. 6, provided lessons that can be used for future exercises with the Whidbey Island and other ships in the installation. A similar exercise took place with the US Coast Guard Ship Dependable.

“I think the firefighters and firefighters who responded to the BHR did their best to apply their level of training and planning to their perception of the incident,” Patterson said. “I don’t think the loss is due to a lack of effort or professionalism, but rather a lack of planning and integrated training. We are fortunate to have the relationship we have with our caring partners. We train frequently together both on the basis of our area of ​​intervention and in the area of ​​intervention of the city. All of our counterparts know each other, and when we work together on the scene, we all know each other by name. “

“Fighting fires on board ships is one of the most dangerous things we can do in the fire department,” said NRMA F&ES District Fire Chief Kenneth Snyder. “It is essential that we train rigorously with all our partners on the intervention on board ships. Fighting fires on board ships requires exceptional coordination and teamwork, as ships are hazardous industrial environments under normal conditions, but when you add fire with associated smoke and other sub- dangerous products, this can be a recipe for disaster for the unprepared. Navy Fed Fire continues to work with our ship crews and our municipal support partners to ensure that we are building the most expert firefighting force in the region.

Date taken: 05/01/2022
Date posted: 01.05.2022 09:18
Story ID: 412469
Site: VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia, United States

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