Firefighting symposium held in Seward; includes live fire training for first time

A firefighter practices on live fire in a controlled situation during the 2013 Marine Firefighting Symposium. Photo by Alan Sorum.
A firefighter practices on live fire in a controlled situation during the 2013 Marine Firefighting Symposium.

The 2013 Marine Firefighting Symposium was held October 8-10 in Seward. Through partnerships with the Seward Fire Department and AVTEC – Alaska’s Institute of Technology, this year the symposium included live fire training for the first time.

Participants came from all parts of Alaska. The 39 participants and eight facilitators represented a mix of communities and industry. Attendance numbers were lower than previous symposiums due to several factors, including the federal government shutdown.

On the first day, participants learned basics of marine firefighting and vessel terminology. The State of Alaska has been developing a “marine firefighting for land-based firefighters” certification standard. This year, for the first time, attendees could seek the awareness level certification under that program. Background information required for passing the written test was presented during Monday’s classroom session.

The morning of the second day, participants were broken into groups which rotated through training stations at AVTEC’s Marine Fire Training Facility. Training at the stations included: mounting a ladder to a ship’s deck, conducting a search and rescue, transporting a patient off a vessel, and advancing a charged fire hose from shore onto a vessel.

During lunch, a representative of Honeywell discussed portable gas detectors, which are used to sense carbon monoxide, oxygen, flammable vapors and hydrogen sulfide. Students were able to use these detectors later that day.
In the afternoon, students rotated between live fire training stations, which included: the AVTEC ship fire simulator, fire extinguisher training with a propane burn pit, a diesel fire, and burning timber.

On the third day, training stations were set up at Seward’s small boat harbor. Training stations included two Kenai Fjords cruise ships, the Cook Inlet tug Junior, the vessel Bering, and a Resolve Marine pump. The Seward Fire Department also provided two engines and their fireboat for the exercises.

In addition to Seward’s fire department and AVTEC, other organizations and businesses lent support to the program: Seward Chamber of Commerce, Scott and Eagle Safety, Kenai Fjords Tours, Foss, Crowley Maritime, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Resolve Marine and the International Fire Service Training Association. The Alaska Department of Homeland Security helped fund travel for 11 firefighters from across the state.

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