1. The Port of Hampton Roads has access to the use of three trailer mounted, portable 3,000 gallon per minute fire pumps. These pumps weigh 7000 lbs each and can operate 4 - 6 hours before refueling. They are fully self-serving, carrying fuel, suction hoses. The pumps are stored in 3 local firehouses and are towed by MIRT Support Trucks. These trucks carry equipment to support the pumps and additional specialized marine firefighting equipment. The pumps are transported to the scene by fire department personnel where the units are stored. Once transported to the scene, they must be loaded onto the desired vessel or platform. It is therefore important to remember to make arrangements for a crane, if necessary.
2. The portable pumps are located at Norfolk Fire Station #6, Portsmouth Fire Station #3, and Newport News Fire Station #1. The MIRT is the point of contact for use of the fire pumps and will supply the personnel required to operate the fire pumps. Contact numbers for the MIRT can be found in Chapter II, D. of this plan.
3. The Port of Hampton Roads has multiple fireboats positioned within the port. The local fire departments own and operate the vessels. The number and type of vessels can be found in Chapter IV, J of this plan.
1. Few disasters provide optimal circumstances. A major vessel fire may occur at anchor away from the resources necessary to combat it, or within a shipyard where onboard fire control systems are out of service. A facility fire may occur in a little-used warehouse space where access is difficult and firefighting facilities are minimal. Fire prevention is still the best means of countering these disasters. For vessels, however, certain alternatives or options usually exist. Vessels, other than those aground or involved in a collision, are generally mobile and may be maneuvered away from further damage, or brought to a location which optimizes firefighting efforts. To this end, it is prudent to consider, as a preplanning step, the selection of several potential locations to fight a vessel fire. Both marine terminals and anchorages should be considered to cover the possibility of a vessel fire getting out of hand. The contingency of moving the vessel to an isolated area may be of prime importance. Due to concerns over liability, terminal operators may be unwilling to allow burning vessels to moor at their facility. The COTP can, in the interest of protecting life, property and the environment, order that a vessel be moored at a particular pier or terminal to facilitate firefighting efforts. However, since such action could subject the federal government to liability for costs and damages incurred by the property owner, such action can be anticipated only in the absence of other alternatives.
2. In selecting a firefighting pier, the first consideration is that the pier be constructed of noncombustible material (e.g., concrete). Also, the adjacent areas should not be placed in danger. A large staging area should be available. Public access must be controllable. The depth of the water alongside the pier should be enough at low tide to allow for the navigation of small craft such as tugs and barges. The depth should, however, not be so deep as to cover the vessel's main deck in the event of sinking. The bottom contour should be level or nearly so, and if possible be of a sandy composition. A hard bottom may puncture the vessels skin in heavy weather, possibly releasing fuel or cargo. A sloping bottom may allow a sunken vessel to slide off into deeper water, where it might capsize. Any decision as to the use of a particular pier for firefighting shall be made in consultation with the facility owners, the municipality Fire Chief, and the COTP.
3. Selection of a firefighting anchorage requires many of the same considerations. However, due to the many variables including draft, weather, cargo and the proximity of other vessels at anchor, each incident will have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.
4. A fire aboard a vessel with a draft over 45 feet is of particular concern due to the limited number of deep draft anchorages and the 45 foot controlling draft of the inbound channel. Anchorages Foxtrot 3 and 4, Golf 3 and 4, and India 1 and 2 are the only suitable anchorages to which these vessels can be brought inside the port. Once past these anchorages, an outbound vessel over 45 feet in draft cannot return to port except within the outbound channel. Since outbound traffic would have to be notified and cleared before this could happen, in most cases vessels over 45 feet in draft will have no alternative except to continue on to the vicinity of Cape Henry to locate a suitable anchorage.
5. A vessel approaching the port while on fire must be evaluated to ascertain the potential hazard to the port prior to entry. If any uncertainty exists, these vessels will normally be directed by the COTP to a suitable anchorage in the vicinity of the Tail of the Horseshoe (deep water north of Cape Henry) until the situation can be evaluated by the MIRT. The COTP is the controlling authority for permitting or directing the movement of a vessel and will, when feasible, work with impacted municipalities on positioning stricken vessels within the harbor.
G. Response Organization
1. In the case of a marine fire, the COTP will activate the Coast Guard Crisis Action Center (CAC) at MSO Hampton Roads with MSO personnel with pre-designated Watch, Quarter, and Station Bill (WQSB) positions making up the Crisis Action Team. The WQSB structure is based upon an Incident Command System (ICS) framework and Federal, Commonwealth and local representatives may be brought in and integrated as necessary. Coast Guard command and control functions will be routed from the CAC. This organization, however, is not intended to replace or conflict with the Command Post or ICS organization set up by local responders on-scene. The MSO’s Crisis Action Team structure is extremely flexible and the on-scene ICS must be integrated with the organization set up by the COTP.
NOTE: a search and rescue (SAR) evolution conducted by Coast Guard Group Hampton Roads, when conducted, will take priority over a ship control operation. There is usually a transition, often seamless and invisible, between the SAR case and the MSO operation to control the ship emergency. Rescue of lives in immediate distress always takes priority.
2. Successfully combating a marine fire pier-side requires effective communication between the fire department, the ship's master and facility managers. Those directing the response must have detailed information on the layout of the vessel or facility, have efficient communications with the firefighters and all support personnel, and be situated in an atmosphere conducive for planning and reacting to developing situations. An on-scene Command Post should be established as soon as possible. The organization of the on-scene Command Post will follow the ICS format. This organization consists of the Incident Commander or Unified Command, Operations, Planning, and as necessary, Logistics and Finance sections. This organization will include:
a. Chief or Designee of Responsible Fire Department - directs shipboard firefighters and formulates tactics on how best to extinguish the fire; works closely with vessel's master or terminal manager, MIRT representative, and Coast Guard COTP (or representative).
b. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) or representative - responsible for safety of harbor and facilities; mobilizes Coast Guard resources to control vessel traffic; provides limited waterside capability; assist in locating and interpreting ships plans, layout, etc.; conducts general planning, cargo assessment, and hazard assessment; and conducts stability assessment for vessels fire. The COTP representative will direct all on-scene Coast Guard forces (post SAR), liaison directly with the fire chief and keep in contact with the MSO Crisis Action Center.
3. The following personnel may, at a minimum, provide vital information and/or resources in response to the incident. In some cases they may fill ICS positions.
a. Vessel Master / Terminal Manager - ultimately responsible for the vessel or facility, and as such must assist the fire department in every way. The master or terminal manager (and their staffs) will provide information on all aspects of the physical problem. They will also provide, organize and direct additional manpower to assist firefighters.
b. Marine Chemist - will provide technical advice regarding hazardous materials and their potential chemical reactions in fires. The Marine Chemist is an expert on atmosphere compositions and the ways to measure them. This information is used to protect responders from toxic or oxygen lacking atmospheres. Chapter IV provides a listing of Marine Chemists in the Hampton Roads area.
c. Telephone / Power Company Representatives - for facility fires, special consideration should be given to having a telephone company representative assist with setting up outside communications and determining the location of trunk cables. A Virginia Dominion Power Company representative should be called to assist in securing power to warehouses or sections of affected facilities.
d. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Representative - has responsibility for maintaining navigable channels. If the response to a particular fire requires anchoring a distressed vessel within the harbor, the ACOE should be consulted (in addition to the COTP) to preclude creating a hazard or menace to navigation.
e. Naval Architect - will provide technical advice regarding shipboard stability and the effects of excess water on shipboard stability. Chapter IV provides a listing of Naval Architects in the Hampton Roads area.
f. American Red Cross - maintains a data bank of multilingual persons in the local area. Translators are often very helpful when dealing with a foreign ship crew during an emergency. The contact number is (757) 440 1111.