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The Israeli National Fire Fighting and Rescue Authority is focusing more and more on fire fighting at sea, developing new procedures and training programs for local emergency crews.

Illustration photo (123rf)
Illustration photo (123rf)

After years during which port authorities and local emergency units were responsible for fire fighting on naval vessels, the responsibility now passed to the National Authority for Fire Fighting and Rescue, who by law has authority over fire fighting in all its forms.

“In the past, when fires broke out aboard ships, fire fighters were called to the port in order to assist local emergency crews, but there were no formal procedures or professional training programs,” said Moshe Amar, Chief Instructor at the National School of Fire Fighting and Rescue, who took part in a delegation of fire fighters to the Netherlands. “A major challenge facing fire fighters is handling fire incidents aboard ships.” Emergency personnel will have to get specialized professional training, especially the fire fighters stationed in port cities.

In order to prepare crews for the challenge, the authority reviewed a number of foreign programs, until the Falck Risc training facility, located in Amsterdam, was chosen. The Ministry of Transportation and Israel Ports are also funding this new training program.

IHLS – Israel Homeland Security

Three delegations from Israeli port cities were sent to Falck Risc, from Haifa, Ashkelon and Eilat. Representatives from the authority’s training and operations divisions joined them. Three training cycles were conducted during October and November, each a week long and focusing on fire fighting tactics aboard ships, relevant risks and threats, and safety procedures.

As part of training the fire fighters studies a variety of problems linked to fire fighting at sea: Terminology, types of ships and facilities, challenges unique to naval emergency response, safety procedures and incident management. In addition, the trainees studies types of shipboard fires, fire fighting tactics, command and control and the decision making processes during a naval fire incident. Members participated in naval fire drills, search and rescue at sea, fire fighting in enclosed areas and simulated scenarios. One day was devoted to fire fighting at naval industry facilities, and incidents involving toxic material spills.

The National Authority for Fire Fighting and Rescue considers this training program a first step on the way to the integration of this new area of responsibility. “The main goal of the program was collecting as much professional knowledge as possible in order to train local crews”, said Amar. The next step will be the development of new operational procedures for fire fighting at sea, to be done by district officers. The knowledge will also be used by the authority to develop new, local training programs for the different levels of command.