Photos: Fire crews rescue ‘casualties’ from ship during training exercise

The fire crews training at Babcock Marine, Appledore, on Tuesday night. The fire crews training at Babcock Marine, Appledore, on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
9:18 AM

Training evening simulated a fire in the confined spaces of a naval ship under construction at Babcock Marine in Appledore.

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The fire crews training at Babcock Marine, Appledore, on Tuesday night.The fire crews training at Babcock Marine, Appledore, on Tuesday night.

ANYONE passing by Babcock Marine last Tuesday evening would have been forgiven for thinking a major incident was going on.

But in actual fact, four fire crews from Bideford, Torrington and Appledore were taking part in an important training exercise.

With a ‘fire’ in the engine room of a naval ship currently being built at the shipyard, crews arrived at the scene to find they had to rescue three ‘casualties’.

While the fire may not have existed and the casualties were in fact made out of sacks, the training exercise is vital for crews to gain valuable experience.

“Babcock is one of the biggest employers in the area and it’s really important we’re familiar with it in case we ever need to attend a real incident here,” said Graham Rooke, Bideford Station Manager.

“The ship is half way through it’s build at the moment but when it is nearer completion the small compartments could fill with smoke quickly and there’s a lot of combustible substances on board.”

Wearing breathing apparatus, small teams wearing blanking masks were sent into the confined spaces of the ship to carry out a search for casualties.

Neil Hole, watch commander for Bideford, said: “These imitate what it’s like to enter a smoke-logged building; it’s like looking through milk bottles.

“The team have to conduct a left-hand search, meaning they keep their hands on the left wall of the ship, and shuffle through with their feet.

“In a real situation, if you don’t follow this procedure or don’t pick out landmarks such as doors and windows on your way through, it’s amazing how quickly you can get disorientated in even a small room.”

With the casualties successfully rescued and everyone out of the ship without injury, the 45 minute training exercise was a success.

David Wainwright, ship manager at Babcock, said the evening had been beneficial for staff at the shipyard as well as the fire service.

He said: “Carrying out exercises on the ships improves our fire and rescue capabilities and also proves the systems we have in place.

“Some of the team who work on site are retained fire fighters so that is also great for us; we’re quite lucky to have them.

“It’s been a successful evening and we want to thank the fire teams for coming down and for their efforts.”

IN PICTURES: To see more photos from the training exercise, click the gallery in the top right of the page.

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