Maritime Fire & Rescue Training

Published:  01 January, 2006

Last month F&R's Ann-Marie Knegt was invited to the Vlissingen Training Centre (TRC), one of the biggest marine training locations in Europe.

Sjaak Vermeulen is the Chief Training and Education officer for the Vlissingen Middelburg Fire Service and the man who deals with the day-to-day activities on the site. Fire brigades from all over the Netherlands and Belgium - and sometimes from Germany and other European countries and from almost every industry - come to train here, he explains.
Maritime rescue: Maritime fire training at the TRC follows a systematic procedure. There is a designated fire team, which consists of fire team members and a fire team leader. Designated personnel on board a ship can complete basic training at TRC to become fire team members. Afterwards the personnel can receive further training to become a fire team leader.
“The Fire Team leader briefs the members of the team on the basis of a reconnaissance plan. The team has to become extremely familiar with ship layout because of the possibility that smoke make limit visibility. Victims have first priority while the secondary goal is firefighting. Every member of the team has to be familiar with the use of breathing apparatus and basic extinguishing techniques,” Sjaak reports.  The task can be a very daunting one - especially when you see the training unit with its engine room simulation. Even though there is no fire, the smoke still lingers from previous training sessions. The air is still filled with ash particles and it is pitch black. The access paths in the unit are narrow and in the middle is a deep pit where the ‘engine’ is located. It is only accessible via two tiny ladders. Sjaak explains that this building is not only used for maritime practise but also for conventional fire training.
Outside, the TRC also offers the option to train in rescue boat scenarios. Here the drop is only seven metres; on a cargo ship or oil tanker the drop can be about 35 metres, the height of a good-sized apartment block.
Dealing with large and small incidents: The TRC has 14 full-time personnel working on the site and 20 part-timers. Next to the TRC the incorporated training company ‘HZ Safety’ has 10 full-time people working in the nautical training section of the TRC.
Comments Sjaak: “We are geared up for every sort of scenario here. We can accommodate any sort of training, from mass-casualty incidents and co­ordinated rescue operations to small and larger scale fires, all in a very environmentally-friendly way. We do not use any oil, but we have developed a way to simulate oil fires. Liquid gas is injected into an open water tank and when the gas boils up it forms a vapour over the water which burns,” he comments.  In co-operation with HZ-Safety BV, TRC also provides training in port security and runs counter­terrorism courses. People can also sign on for inter­national courses in Maritime and Shipboard Safety. This training usually involves onboard fire drills, fire in the accommodation quarters, engine-room fires and fires in cargo areas. Galley firefighting (also taught here) requires even more specialised training as fat in the ventilation system can cause flames tospread very rapidly.
If you are interested in training at the TRC, please e-mail: trainingscentrum@brandweer

  • Operation Florian

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