Marine Firefighting

Maritime firefighting skills are essential to the fire departments of Prince William Sound. Port Valdez is home to the Valdez Marine Terminal, where crude oil tankers arrive daily, as well as a small boat harbor that is home to fishing vessels that are an integral part of oil spill response operations. Vessel fires pose a significant threat, not only to people, but also to the environment.

The council hosts Marine Firefighting Symposium for Land-Based Firefighters every two years. The last symposium was held in Homer in 2017, and was co-hosted by our sister organization, the Cook Inlet Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council.

Planning for the next symposium is underway.

About the Symposium

This three-day conference is an industry recognized effort to provide the best available marine firefighting information and practices to shore-based firefighters, using both classroom and field experiences.

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.

Shipboard fires can occur in any coastal community and at any time. Depending on location and severity, marine firefighting efforts can require not only a local response, but a regional effort as well. Through the enhanced training offered at the Symposium, firefighters in coastal communities can be better prepared to respond safely and effectively to marine fire incidents.

The primary focus of the symposium is to raise awareness and increase safety in the event of a shipboard fire related to the oil tankers and other vessels associated with the transportation of oil in Prince William Sound.

Topics covered

  • interpretation of ship fire plans
  • firefighter coordination with ship’s crew
  • basics of vessel stability
  • ship awareness
  • vessel familiarization
  • coordination of private and public responses
  • politics of a marine incident
  • an update on implementation of Coast Guard salvage and marine firefighting regulations
  • and an introduction to oil shipping.

Numerous hands-on and field activities allow community firefighters to work with marine industry salvage and firefighting contractors.

Previous symposiums:

Update on the 2015 Symposium from The Observer newsletter: Firefighters from across Alaska converge on Valdez to learn about marine fire response

Photos from 2013 Symposium:

For photos from the 2013 Symposium, visit our Facebook page:  2013 Marine Firefighting Symposium for Land Based Firefighters

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