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Control measure

Responsible person: Fires on board vessels

Control measure knowledge

The master is ultimately responsible for the vessel and all its crew, passengers, cargo, etc. However, in their absence this responsibility can be devolved to a nominated representative. Where possible the incident commander should make contact with the vessel's master on arrival at the incident.

Where there is no obvious responsible person, master or owner, the incident commander must implement operational procedures to save life, protect property and reduce any impact on the environment.

Other relevant stakeholders for liaison may include:

  • Category 1 and 2 responders
  • Port authorities
  • Harbour masters
  • Salvors
  • Insurance companies
  • Owners
  • Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention

The incident commander should obtain details of the vessel's fire plan, the incident, the vessel, its cargo and any firefighting measures already implemented, which will include information on the:

  • Current firefighting operations being undertaken
  • Evacuation, invacuation or disembarkation of passengers and/or crew
  • Sections of the vessel enclosed by fire-resisting bulkheads
  • Fire detection systems activated
  • Status of on-board fire suppression fixed installations
  • Availability of fixed and portable fire appliances and firefighting equipment
  • Means of access to the various decks and compartments
  • Status of ventilation system, including particulars of the master fan controls
  • Status of compartment doors and watertight hatches
  • Position of dampers
  • The location of the international ship-to-shore connection
  • Available closed circuit television (CCTV) coverage

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Undertake vessel firefighting training for all personnel who may be exposed to this type of incident

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Confirm that fire and rescue service assistance is required and ask for permission to board the vessel
  • Question the responsible person, other responders and witnesses to understand incident factors and history
  • Ensure a thorough brief is obtained from the vessel's master or their nominated representative
  • Ascertain any prior and ongoing firefighting actions taken by on board teams