New Training Facility At CFB Esquimalt
The new firefighing/damage control building at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt (Victoria) has just gone into service...
Navy opens state-of-art training site Multimillion-dollar facility teaches flood control, firefighting, and nuclear, biological and chemical defence
Gerard Young Times Colonist Friday, July 04, 2003
Minutes are what separate success from disaster in Leading Seaman Bill Clarke's line of work.
The native of Fergus, Ont., is a junior instructor at CFB Esquimalt's new damage-control training facility, which officially opened Thursday in Colwood.
Fires on ships are nasty business due to the closed nature of a vessel as well as all its compartments and electrical equipment. Warships have even greater concerns because they carry ammunition.
Clarke, who is also an engineer with B.C. Ferries and a member of the coast guard reserves, hasn't fought any fires while working in those capacities. But he has battled four on warships during his 13-year career in the regular and reserve Armed Forces.
"We had one that could have gotten out of control," Clarke said, recalling a fire on HMCS SASKATCHEWAN a dozen years ago.
"It could have been a major disaster. I got quite a lesson on how to do things right. Your have three or four minutes to knock it down. ... You have to do the right thing at the right time."
Anyone who doesn't believe such training is important need only look at the fast action of the crew of the QUEEN OF SURREY ferry on May 12 this year, he said.
Investigators praised the efficient work of the crew protecting more than 300 passengers from a blaze off Bowen Island.
A demonstration at the new (Damage Control Training Facility) DCTF GALIANO -- named after the only Royal Canadian Navy ship lost in the First World War -- gave visitors an indication of what firefighters and the crew of a downed shipboard helicopter might face.
The mock helicopter, on a concrete pad with a metal grill for drainage, began to leak propane. Then a button was pressed to set the chopper aflame.
The controlled flames generated a million BTUs, compared to a household gas furnace that gives off 50,000 to 100,000.
The heat as the firefighters moved in was between 1,500 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors observing some 15 metres away felt heat much like the blast from opening a hot oven on a warm day.
Firefighters used foam to knock down enough of the blaze to get through a side door on the helicopter to rescue a dummy.
The exercise ended within minutes but it was done on land, not on the aft deck of a warship.
It's not so long ago the navy almost had to deal with a similar incident. A Sea King helicopter crashed Feb. 27 aboard HMCS IROQUOIS on the way to the Arabian Sea and the war on terrorism. Shrapnel flew, thousands of rounds of live ammunition scattered, and hundreds of litres of fuel washed over the deck.
An IROQUOIS crew member triggered the ship's primary response system to spread dry chemical and foam, preventing a fire and potential disaster.
But investigators found another major firefighting system on the destroyer was not used because an operator didn't know how to use it, raising questions about training.
All sailors are trained in firefighting from the new recruit to officers. Clarke's first class in the new facility begins next week with about a dozen young officers.
Adjacent to the mock helicopter is the GALIANO building, which has rooms built to scale of various parts of a warship, such as the galley and paint locker. Fire training can be undertaken inside these closed compartments. The building also has space for training on flood control and nuclear, biological and chemical defence.
The price tag for GALIANO and a new sister facility KOOTENAY in Halifax is $44 million. The navy says the new facilities are not only safe, but environmentally friendly.
Colwood neighbours once complained about the thick plumes of black smoke coming off the firefighting facility when diesel fuel was ignited for training on a mock helicopter and ship's deck. The propane used now is less polluting. The old mock-ups will be removed and the site cleaned.
**Text for picutre description: John McKay, Times Colonist / Military firefighters demonstrate skills while dousing a "downed" helicopter at the opening of Pacific Fleet's new Damage Control Training Facility in Colwood.
© Copyright 2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)
HERE'S A LITTLE MORE ON THAT ONE...
[B][COLOR=BLUE]That’s damage control
Ellen Yeung photo (see below)
Firefighters extinquish flames licking a helicopter shell at the new Damage Control Training Facility Galiano
By Ellen Yeung News Gazette staff
For years, residents surrounding Esquimalt Harbour would complain about plumes of black, stifling smoke emanating from the damage control training facility at CFB Esquimalt’s Colwood property.
That facility has been replaced with a new one, the Damage Control Training Facility (DCTF) Galiano, to the tune of $22 million. It is to train the Navy’s west coast fleet in all aspects of damage control including firefighting, flood control, nuclear biological chemical defence (NBCD) and casualty clearing. A similar facility opened in Halifax last October to train the east coast fleet.
In addition to replacing obsolete facilities, the DCTF Galiano, named after the only Canadian warship lost in the First World War, was built to “address environmental concerns,” said John McCallum, Minister of National Defence.
It replaces diesel fuel with propane gas to produce flames. It also uses vegetable-based oil to produce smoke and biodegradable soap to simulate fire-suppressing foam.
The interior of the 4,600-square-metre building replicates the decks and compartments of a ship. There are ladders, hatches and specific compartments where there is the potential of fire and flood such as the engine room, galley, and workshops. It is completely enclosed so smoke stays inside the building.
Fifteen “burn rooms” are fitted with propane fuel “props” and smoke generators to simulate fires in specific areas like a paint locker or galley. The fires are started with just a push of a computer button in the central control room.
“It’s like playing a game, but it’s a lot more important,” Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Boyd Clark said of the simulation.
The computer operators can control the flames of any room in the three floors of the building.
But students can experience a sense of urgency and fear as sound effects are played, lights go on and off, and the fire spreads to other rooms if they don’t properly contain the fire.
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Wilson conveys a dark sense of humour as he describes a fire in a room as “like a big barbeque.” He also demonstrates an infrared heat seeking camera that can be used to locate people in a smoky room.
The sailors don’t just learn how to deal with ordinary fires though. Ships also have hazardous materials such as ammunition, explosives, fuel, and paint, said Rear Admiral James Fraser.
There are also two flood rooms which can fill with water that has 130 pounds of pressure.
Other features of the facility include a smoke maze, and a helicopter shell outside that can be set on fire. The facility can also be used to train personnel in nuclear, biological and chemical defence measures.
The opening of DCTF Galiano comes on the heels of other spending announcements by the Department of National Defence. Earlier last Thursday, McCallum broke ground for the construction of new accommodations and dining facilities at the Naval Officer Training Centre in Esquimalt.
The day before, he announced a contract worth up to $1.4 million to conduct an archival review to locate sites across Canada where warfare agents may have been disposed of or destroyed.
McCallum also announced the awarding of a $46-million contract that will bring several shops together into one modern facility within the Esquimalt dockyard’s ship repair zone.
© Copyright 2003 Goldstream Gazette