July 2009 - HMNZS NGAPONA Damage Control Refresher Training
On the evening of 29th July 2009 24 members of HMNZS NGAPONA’s Ships Company mustered at the Sea Safety Training Squadron at Devonport Naval Base for refresher training. The instructors directed them towards the changing room where they were to dress in 2 sets of blue overalls, anti-flash, anti-flash gloves and gumboots.
The activities for the evening included filling a fire extinguisher followed by a fire fighting drill. Trainees were asked to pick up an empty fire extinguisher and to fill it with AFFF foam which is designed to extinguish Alpha (solid fuelled fires), Bravo (liquid fuelled fires) and Foxtrot (fat fuelled fires) classes of fire. As the instructors started fires in the compartment, an anxious group of Reservisits huddled on the flight deck of the fire training unit waiting for their cue ‘raise the alarm’.
Image Right: A team emerges from fighting the fire wearing their ELSA face masks.
In groups of two, one trainee would lead to the compartment where two fires were growing larger and larger by the second. It was no easy task walking through a dense black fog with poor visibility, while at the same time retaining a 9kg extinguisher. After attacking the fire, trainees were to put on the ELSA (Emergency LifeSaving Apparatus) face mask and exit the training unit. Despite such compelling circumstances, every trainee carried out this daunting task with maximum safety and efficiency at all times. The evidence for which can be drawn from their black lips, black nostrils and in worst cases the entire face was covered in black smoke!
The evolution on the parade night of the 29th July was a test to the three core values of the Navy. NGAPONA personnel not only showed courage by confronting the fire and being committed by turning up to parade night but most importantly NGAPONA got through this evolution because of a strong camaraderie between members of all ages and all ranks.
NGAPONA division gained a lot of practical skills, knowledge about the DC equipment and increased ability from the evening’s evolution. This would not have been possible without the help of the personnel in the DC school who worked very hard to ensure a smooth execution.
By OSEA Lodhawalla