Firefighting on RNZN naval vessels

"This work enabled the RNZN to make informed decisions on the equipment and procedures used to fight fires on our naval vessels."

  • Thermal imaging was highly valuable in capturing what was happening.
  • There was no significant increase in temperature beyond the nozzle protective disc.

Good firefighting and damage control skills are important to have on a naval vessel. You cannot readily evacuate from a fire on a ship; you either fight it or spend a long time waiting to be picked up from your life raft.

The acquisition of the Protector fleet vessels and smaller crews, meaning fewer people to fight fires, prompted the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) to review firefighting procedures on their vessels.

One question that came up was whether adequate thermal protection was offered to a firefighting team with a single hose using the multirole nozzle with non-aspirated foam.

We supported this investigation through temperature logging and thermal imaging of firefighting training scenarios at the Navy’s Sea Survival Training School. We set up instrumentation adjacent to a fire pit, and naval personnel demonstrated operational firefighting techniques with both water and non-aspirated foam going through the nozzle of interest.

Results

The thermal imaging proved to be of high value as it captured the fact that the flames penetrated the protective disc from the nozzle when foam and water with the foam attachment were used. The thermal datalogging provided additional information that while flames did briefly penetrate the disc, there was no significant increase in temperature beyond the disc. This indicated that the disc was removing much of the thermal energy from the flames.

This work enabled the RNZN to make informed decisions on the equipment and procedures used to fight fires on our naval vessels.