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The master of each vessel is required to establish emergency duty lists for the crew and to see that they are trained in their emergency duties. Each officer must have an intimate knowledge of his emergency duties as well as those of the personnel he will direct or supervise should an emergency occur.

1.4.1 Fire stations
Figure 1.4.1 represents a commonly used fire and emergency station bill format. It divides the ship's crew up into functional groups. Each is designated with a critical task in the event of a fire on board. This station bill is one of the first things a new officer must check when reporting on board. The moment he relieves his predecessor he must be prepared to fulfil his emergency duties. Fires on tankers often occur in port and they are as likely to happen on an officer's first watch in port as on his last.
All crew members must know the character and sound of each alarm signal used on the ship and the action which each requires him to take.

A standard, pre-printed emergency station bill.

The newly assigned officer must carefully examine the fire station bill to determine his fire station and duties. He should then check the duties of the men he will supervise in an emergency. A list of the fire team ratings and duties should be entered in the officer's deck notebook. Each fire team member should be assigned a secondary duty to be completed if one of the emergency team is injured or missing.
Before the first fire drill, the new officer should discuss his fire duties with the master, to ensure that they have a common understanding of what is expected during drills and in the event of an actual emergency.

1.4.2 Boat stations
Before the vessel leaves port, a new officer must also become thoroughly familiar with his boat station. He should do this by a careful examination of the boat, davits and all associated equipment. He should immediately bring any deficiencies to the attention of the chief officer. He should mentally rehearse each operation in the preparation and lowering of the lifeboat, including the duties of the crew members. Names and duties of each crew member should be entered in the deck notebook. A muster list should be kept at each boat station. If none is found, one must be prepared and placed in a waterproof container at the boat station. It is important for the officer to know two ways of getting to his boat station from his cabin and from the navigation bridge. After the vessel is at sea, he should enter the boat and make a thorough inspection of the contents and the instructions for operating the motor, radio, deluge and air equipment and other on-board equipment. He should assist the engineer when the engine will be tested, making a point of being there to see how the motor is started and stopped and learning how the starting system is recharged.
The lifeboat operations are divided among a number of the ship's crew. In almost any emergency, several will be available to assist with its launching. But the new officer should always remember that he may be the only one available to prepare the boat for launching, start the motor and operate the controls in an angry sea if the order to abandon ship is given!

1.4.3 Other emergencies
The master will assign each officer other emergency duties in the event of a man overboard, personnel injury, or oil spill. Oil spill responsibilities are set out in the vessel's oil spill response plan. The master should discuss each officer's response duties with him in detail. These should be noted in the officer's deck notebook and reviewed regularly.
Other alarms which each officer must recognise and be aware of include:

  • Carbon dioxide release.

  • Inert gas pressure (or other defect).

  • Tank high-level alarms.

  • Other alarms as displayed in the wheelhouse or cargo control room.
  • 1.4.4 Drills
    Drills are rehearsals for disasters. The object of all drill is readiness. A good crew is ready to deal with any calamity that can occur on their ship, but they only gain this ability if they have rehearsed their emergency duties frequently and under conditions as close as possible to the real thing.

    Emergency readiness is only improved by making drills as authentic as possible.

    Every drill should be made as authentic as possible. When boat drills are held, personnel should be required to don appropriate clothing before going to their boat stations. If this means survival suits, then survival suits should be donned at least once in each month. In the tropics, caps and full protective clothing should be put on. Each man attending the drill should be asked a question about his duties, the tasks assigned to another crew member and directed to demonstrate some emergency procedure. For example: if a pumproom rescue drill is scheduled, simply talking about the procedure is not enough. An appropriate size and weight dummy should be placed beforehand in the bottom of the pumproom, permitting the crew the opportunity to rig up the equipment and rescue the dummy.
    Other drills should be created according to the special hazards of the ship, the concerns raised during on-board safety meetings, or scenarios derived from actual casualties on similar vessels. To make the drills more realistic:

  • Certain personnel, equipment, or areas of the ship can be declared casualties or 'out of bounds' for purpose of the drill.
  • Alternative means of communication should be verified operational.
  • Times required for each type of drill should be recorded and records/charts displayed of improvements in time achieved. Teams can be formed for rescue and fire-fighting drills and awards can be presented for the best performance.

  • Every drill should be conducted with all the seriousness of a wedding rehearsal, with the attitude that: 'next time we do this, it will be for real!'

    1.4.5 Verbal drills

    Verbal drills of possible accidents improve readiness.

    Drills need not be restricted to the official weekly event. Every officer should conduct discussions or mini-drills of emergency procedures with his watch as time permits. He should ask his watch members to describe how they would deal with a man overboard event, with an oil spill, a fire in the paint locker, or discovery of a stowaway. Doing this makes otherwise slow watches pass faster and improves everyone's readiness.

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