Training Aboard Ships for Seattle F.D.
Fire fighters attend station classes, then practice aboard two freighters in shipyard
A school for shipboard fires that was three years in the making, and the brainchild of Captain B.L. Larsen of the Seattle Fire Department, recently went into operation. Since its inception more than 900 fire fighters have attended the school which is held at two locations in Seattle—Station 14 and Lockheed Shipyard Two where two freighters are used for the practical training.
Fire fighters who attend the school are first sent to lectures and demonstrations at the fire station to familiarize them with the variety of ships calling at the Port of Seattle. Charts, diagrams and slides illustrating the exteriors and interiors of ships are used for this purpose.
The next step finds fire fighters and apparatus moving into Lockheed’s shipyard for a practical application of what they have learned. The setting for this lesson is provided by the freighters Atlantic Navigator and the Don Jose Figueras, which had actually been afire at sea and which is still in the “overhaul” stage—cargo holds blackened and crew’s quarters destroyed.
Battalion Chief J.C. Day, an instructor in the school, leads each group through all parts of the ships, explaining as he goes. Next comes a dry run in which each group participates. Here, the men leave the ship(s) and await orders. A call goes out—Fire on the Atlantic Navigator! Fire in hold No. 2 has trapped men!
Ladders go out and against the ship. Hose, breathing apparatus and other equipment are carried aboard. And the search begins for the trapped men. Into the hold, no lights, hose shoved and dragged, compressed air tanks dig heavily into shoulders. Finally, the “men” are found, brought up through a hatch and into awaiting stretchers. The “fire” and the lesson are over. .. until the next group comes through.
The Seattle Fire Department has countless ships and 192 miles of waterfront to protect. And while the city has never recorded a disastrous ship fire, the potential is always there.
Photos by Jim Davis.