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56 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • MARCH 2014


Smoke bellows out the ventila- tion ducts. The glow of the blaz- ing fi re emanates down the pas- sageway. Firefi ghters move with precision and purpose, pausing to unleash a torrent of water towards the fi re as they kneel before it. Such was the scene at the Navy’s fi rst submarine fi re- fi ghting trainer, located at Naval

Air Station North Island (NASNI)

Oct. 29.

Commander, Navy Installation Com- mand (CNIC) approached Kidde Fire

Trainers almost one year ago in response to the incident on the USS Miami, in which a fi re caused over $400 million of damage to the submarine.

Numerous issues arose from the in- cident, primarily fi refi ghter response and the readiness of base fi refi ghters to deal with fi ghting shipboard fi re. The need for additional training resources was identifi ed in order to train base fi re departments on what they’ll encounter when fi ghting fi res in the tight quarters of a submarine.

Kidde Fire Trainers is scheduled to build three other modular trainers at Na- val bases around the country in addition to the NASNI trainer, and has also cur- rently stationed mobile training units at

Naval Bases in Kings Bay, Ga. and New

London, Conn. The new fi refi ghting trainer at NASNI is the fi rst of the four permanent modular trainers to be built.

The other three trainers purchased by

CNIC will be located at Portsmouth, N.H.;

Norfolk, Va. and Bangor, Wash. These trainers, located in four different regions, will allow federal fi refi ghters, emergency services and outside agencies access to a proper trainer to increase operational ca- pabilities in the event that a live incident or fi re occurs on a ship, said David Saler- no, Assistant Fire Chief with Southwest

Region Fire and Emergency Services. “The major problems we have in ships or submarines is fi guring out where the fi re is internally, fi guring out where you are, and being able to deal with the hori- zontal and vertical passages that aren’t typical,” said Salerno, who is also the

NASNI training center manager and San

Diego metro area training offi cer.

The accuracy of the submarine’s repre- sentation in the new trainer will provide fi refi ghters the best possible training available. “The way this has been de- signed with the specifi cs in it that rep- licate the interior of a submarine, with submarine hatches, they can drill and train on those specifi cs and get their skill level up so if they do have to respond in the dockyard they’ll be ready for it,” said


In addition to the hatches, the trainer has scuttles, grates, a galley, a main space, electrical panels, cable trays and simulated wires throughout bulkheads, said Mike Tenney, a captain with Federal

Fire Department San Diego stationed at

Naval Base Point Loma Fire Station 111. “This gives our fi refi ghters an oppor- tunity to fi gure out ahead of time, before they’re actually in a real fi re, how to navigate their way through a ship,” said

Salerno. “It provides a large measure of realism that will be taken with each of those fi refi ghters when they go to the real fi re.”

Tenney, a former damage controlman in the Navy, understands the diffi culty of navigating through a ship or submarine without previous shipboard experience. “A lot of the guys haven’t been on ships, they haven’t been in the Navy, so this is going to teach them the tactics needed in assisting the ship’s crew with shipboard fi refi ghting,” Tenney said. “This is go- ing to give great awareness to people that don’t have much experience.”

When fi ghting a fi re in the dockyard, typically, the ship’s force begins the pro- cess. They determine where the fi re is, set their boundaries, and start the fi re attack.

However, if they realize they need more resources to deal with the incident, the base fi re departments are called in and respond to the situation, said Salerno. “Now that we have this trainer, we have something that’s specifi c to our needs, something we can internally de- velop training objectives to and then train to those objectives on a schedule that works for us on a regular basis,” said

Salerno. “It will make us infi nitely more effective when we’re actually fi ghting a fi re on a ship.”

Training in the new facility has al- ready begun, with scenarios designed to push the capabilities of the trainees.

Two classes of fi refi ghters completed a two-day course on Oct. 29 and Oct. 31, respectively, to become instructors on the new trainer, familiarizing themselves with the various operations and safety features of the facility.

While the fi refi ghters continue to train and acclimate themselves to the unique challenges of shipboard fi refi ghting, the

Navy will reap the benefi t of having its base and local fi re departments better equipped to handle ship and submarine fi res thanks to its new fi refi ghting trainers.

By Todd C. Behrman (U.S. Navy)

NASNI Builds Navy’s First


FiFi Trainer

Nick Lugue Jr., a welder with Naval Facilities Engineering Com- mand Southwest, welds a new fi refi ghting trainer into place at

Naval Air Station North Island. The trainer is the fi rst of four new trainers the Navy is building that will simulate potential fi re hazards aboard submarines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Commu- nication Specialist 3rd Class Todd C. Behrman)

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