Quirks of Ship Life: Fire Teams

04 February 2013

As we teach in New Crew Orientation, safety is every crew member's responsibility.  One of the ways the crew does this is participating in fire teams.  Every other Thursday we have fire drills where our teams get to spring into action!  To be on a fire team you have to have had Basic Safety Training, which I completed at the IOC in training last fall. 
Medical staff can't be on a fire team, they have to be ready to help evacuate the hospital if needed. Teachers, school staff, and primary caregivers also can't be on fire teams, as they must potentially be caring for and evacuating students/children if necessary.
If you've been following my blog since training, you might remember I wasn't super keen on the fire training.  I mean, I completed it, and I did it reasonably well, but I don't really like fire. I don't even really like candles. So I had no interest, whatsoever, in being on a fire team.  However, just before Christmas, with the mass exodus of holdiay travelers, the Safety Officer came to me and said he really needed me to be on a fire team; they were literally out of able bodied, trained, non-medical, non-school crew members. Okay, I said, but only because you actually really need me! There are three fire teams each consisting of six to ten or so members.
So, for the last month and a half or so, I've been BA control, Fire Team 1.  (BA means Breathing Apparatus, not Badass, unfortunately.  wink.) Basically what this means in a drill (or emergency) is that when the first alarm goes off I need to leave whatever I am doing and RUN to Fire Locker #1 (I failed my first fire drill because I didn't get there fast enough!)
Once I am there, my job is to take the muster (aka roll call) of our fire team, call it in to muster control, check oxygen levels and pressure in all the tanks, and monitor the oxygen levels according to the amount of time the crew has been on oxygen.  I also help the team with equipment as needed.  It's pretty simple, I don't actually have to fight the fire... Like I mentioned earlier, the first fire drill did not go well, but since then it's been alright.
However, part of the reason I wanted to get this post written today was I think that now the holiday travelers have all returned I will be taken off the fire team. Which I really want, actually.  I mean, I like that I've been trained and can help out in that way, but reality is, I'm not super comfortable with it all, and I often feel like I just get in the way.  Also of note, I'm the ONLY female in all the fire teams... which honestly can be pretty intimidating.  I'm really good in crisis situations, I think my skills can be better used elsewhere, where I can feel like I'm doing something useful and not just in the way.  So we'll see what happens!

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