Jump to content

Fire on Noordam at 3.10am


danceman
 Share

Recommended Posts

Great post.

 

I am a fire department dispatcher for 30 years and your post rang so true.

 

Of course a fire on board a ship is scary. And there is fine line between keeping passengers informed and reassured , and causing a free for all panic.

 

 

It sounds like it was handled pretty well in the OPs case

 

I have twice evacuated a hotel during an alarm, once while recuperating in another city from outpatient surgery (that was fun) and once in January in D.C. during a snowstorm (two hours on sidewalk in nightgown and slippers (even more fun).

 

Additionally, I live in a new high rise, mixed use building. The fire alarms go off seemingly at random, which the fire department says is not uncommon in new buildings.

 

In no case has there been a reassuring Captain broadcasting an explanation of the problem or a well trained crew giving directions.

 

Be thankful all that was lost was a few hours sleep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To the OP, I think both. You should thank your lucky stars that the fire was put out and you should complain. You experienced a very frightening event in the middle of the night. It was great that HAL crew kept you informed on what was happening. I am sure you felt some relief when the Captain announced that the fire was out. What was missing from your story was the Captain acknowledging that this was a very negative experience of this cruise and the possible negative effect that it may have had on 1900 plus passengers. The human element was definitely missing from your update.

 

Bad idea --- if the captain went on record referring to "a very negative experience of this cruise" and "the negative effect it may have had on 1900 plus passengers", I am willing to bet that a fair number of those 1900 would have requested/demanded compensation (I'm willing to bet that some will anyway).

 

Sure, it might have been nice to express some regret, but in today's environment any unnecessary admission can have costly results.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This incident reinforces for me the value of the new 3-stage muster drill. If the fire had gotten out of control and evacuation became necessary, I think it would have been a real problem to have passengers jumping the gun and congregating on the promenade deck while the crew was trying to clear the deck chairs and prepare the lifeboats for loading. While speed is important in an evacuation, so is allowing the crew to do the necessary work unimpeded.

 

I experienced 2 muster drills with the Statendam, first as a participant and a week later standing on the Canada Place pier watching the action. I think HAL is on the right track with the muster drills and the passengers need to pay full attention and allow the crews to do their work. Practicing the full procedure and not just a slice of it is a big step in the right direction.

 

Roy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not to alarm anyone further, but fires onboard are a fairly common occurrence. It's just that the guests are usually unaware of them. When a fire is reported to the bridge, a "code" announcement will go out to the crew, and the emergency teams will muster and attend to the emergency/fire. There will be an "on scene commander" (generally the Staff Chief Engineer or Chief Officer) who will advise the Captain whether the situation is serious enough to warrant sounding the alarm and mustering the guests. Many fires are dealt with before even all of the fire teams have arrived on scene, and then things return to normal. I'm a bit surprised that an incinerator fire was announced that quickly, but the 30-40 minutes between the alarm and the Captain's announcement would be normal, as the fire teams need time to determine if the seat of the fire has been extinguished, and to check for hot spots to prevent re-flashing of the fire.

 

Other than perhaps having the Captain apologize for waking all the guests in the middle of the night (as a courtesy), there is nothing to apologize for. To say that the crew should be "careful not to start fires in the first place" denigrates the company's policies and the crew's training (in fire prevention as well as fire fighting). Trust me when I say that the crew is far, far, more concerned with fire prevention onboard than the guests are, because the crew lives onboard for longer than the week the guests are there, and because the crew are the ones who will be on the business end of the fire hose facing the flames if a fire breaks out.

 

To say that HAL has many fires in crew areas "that are under their control", and this shows that they are somehow negligent is false. The reason there are fewer fires in guest areas is because the lines try to remove as many possible sources of fire as they can, yet they still allow hair care appliances and smoking, which are the two most common sources of fire in guest areas.

 

Let me explain about incinerator fires. Every day, the ship generates about 6-10 m3 (cubic meters) of paper and cardboard trash. This is shredded and stored in a silo until the ship gets underway, and the incinerator can be started at sea to burn all this trash. The crew is very conscious about trash sorting, and go through everything they take from your cabin wastebaskets (and their own, and all other trash receptacles) to ensure that not only is as much as possible recycled, but that no metal is left in the paper trash. This metal, when sent through the shredder, can spark, and this spark falls on a fine source of flammable material, the shredded paper in the silo. I have seen a silo fire caused by a single AA battery going through the shredder. This spark will ignite some of the paper, but as more paper is shredded and dumped on top of the smolder, it gets buried, and waits. At night, when the incinerator is being run, the smolder will gradually work its way towards the air as the shredded paper is dropped into the incinerator. This is when the smolder bursts into flame, and there is a fire in the silo. This will set off the fire alarm, and there are fire suppression means built into the silo to fight the fire. However, the fire teams will still need to open the silo doors, and using thermal cameras rake through the shredded paper looking for remaining hot spots before the all clear will happen. This can take a while.

 

Yes, fire at sea is a serious business. I've been at sea for 40 years, and seen my share. Yes, fire prevention is the most important aspect of fire fighting, and the crews are probably more aware of fire prevention than anything else in their shipboard life. To those of you who are asking for an apology from the line for the fire happening, would you expect an apology from them if the fire had started in a passenger cabin from a cigarette butt in a trash can?

Thank you for the clear explanation. I appreciate understanding this better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I find fascinating about this thread is that people find normal to have fire on a ship.

I feel totally impossible to accept that a fire developing is normal operation, and there is no one to blame. It should be something extremely unlikely, or that was what I expected.

Tha fact that it was correctly and professionally dealt with should not make us forget that it shouldn't have happened in the first place. It's like saying the boat sank, but it was no biggie as everyone got off safely, we just were a bit inconvenienced by the tendering experience :). I understand that even in that situation it could be worse(Concordia, Sewol) but all of you think that that would be right? Sometimes ships sink, we all know that, but they shouldn't.

And by no means am I asking for a compensation, but maybe an "sorry for having a fire" should be proper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I find fascinating about this thread is that people find normal to have fire on a ship.

I feel totally impossible to accept that a fire developing is normal operation, and there is no one to blame. It should be something extremely unlikely, or that was what I expected.

Tha fact that it was correctly and professionally dealt with should not make us forget that it shouldn't have happened in the first place. It's like saying the boat sank, but it was no biggie as everyone got off safely, we just were a bit inconvenienced by the tendering experience :). I understand that even in that situation it could be worse(Concordia, Sewol) but all of you think that that would be right? Sometimes ships sink, we all know that, but they shouldn't.

And by no means am I asking for a compensation, but maybe an "sorry for having a fire" should be proper.

 

Any community of several thousand people which conducts activities like cooking, necessary trash handling (including incineration), where some people smoke has to anticipate the chance of fire. It is simply naive to state that "it shouldn't have happened in the first place". Sure, ideally bad things should never happen - but in the real world they just do happen.

 

A well managed ship with a well trained crew can handle what is almost inevitable - and that us what appears to have gone on in this instance.

 

Saying "sorry for having a fire", while perhaps proper etiquette, must be recognized as being seen as an acknowledgement of negligence and an invitation for requests for compensation. Enough posters on this thread appear to feel that HAL did something wrong - and in our society admitting doing something wrong (especially unnecessarily) is foolishly asking for trouble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read with interest the comments above that HAL has had "more than their share" of fires.

 

Perhaps HAL is more prone to sounding the alarm when they have a minor incident... But more fires? I somehow dont think so. Google "Passenger ship fires" and you will find a web site devoted to the subject . Within THAT site they have a page devoted to "Significant" cruise ship fires since 1970.

 

There have been about 40, and only 3 are HAL. (And one of them is the Westerdam a couple months ago, and I dont know if I would consider THAT "significant"....)

 

In comparison, SIXTEEN have been Carnival ships.....

 

See it here: http://www.cruiseshipfires.com/Fires/cruise_ship_fires.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read with interest the comments above that HAL has had "more than their share" of fires.

 

Perhaps HAL is more prone to sounding the alarm when they have a minor incident... But more fires? I somehow dont think so. Google "Passenger ship fires" and you will find a web site devoted to the subject . Within THAT site they have a page devoted to "Significant" cruise ship fires since 1970.

 

There have been about 40, and only 3 are HAL. (And one of them is the Westerdam a couple months ago, and I dont know if I would consider THAT "significant"....)

 

In comparison, SIXTEEN have been Carnival ships.....

 

See it here: http://www.cruiseshipfires.com/Fires/cruise_ship_fires.html

That's the second fire on Noordam within a month.

Edited by steve ch
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not to alarm anyone further, but fires onboard are a fairly common occurrence. It's just that the guests are usually unaware of them. When a fire is reported to the bridge, a "code" announcement will go out to the crew, and the emergency teams will muster and attend to the emergency/fire. There will be an "on scene commander" (generally the Staff Chief Engineer or Chief Officer) who will advise the Captain whether the situation is serious enough to warrant sounding the alarm and mustering the guests. Many fires are dealt with before even all of the fire teams have arrived on scene, and then things return to normal. I'm a bit surprised that an incinerator fire was announced that quickly, but the 30-40 minutes between the alarm and the Captain's announcement would be normal, as the fire teams need time to determine if the seat of the fire has been extinguished, and to check for hot spots to prevent re-flashing of the fire.

 

Other than perhaps having the Captain apologize for waking all the guests in the middle of the night (as a courtesy), there is nothing to apologize for. To say that the crew should be "careful not to start fires in the first place" denigrates the company's policies and the crew's training (in fire prevention as well as fire fighting). Trust me when I say that the crew is far, far, more concerned with fire prevention onboard than the guests are, because the crew lives onboard for longer than the week the guests are there, and because the crew are the ones who will be on the business end of the fire hose facing the flames if a fire breaks out.

 

To say that HAL has many fires in crew areas "that are under their control", and this shows that they are somehow negligent is false. The reason there are fewer fires in guest areas is because the lines try to remove as many possible sources of fire as they can, yet they still allow hair care appliances and smoking, which are the two most common sources of fire in guest areas.

 

Let me explain about incinerator fires. Every day, the ship generates about 6-10 m3 (cubic meters) of paper and cardboard trash. This is shredded and stored in a silo until the ship gets underway, and the incinerator can be started at sea to burn all this trash. The crew is very conscious about trash sorting, and go through everything they take from your cabin wastebaskets (and their own, and all other trash receptacles) to ensure that not only is as much as possible recycled, but that no metal is left in the paper trash. This metal, when sent through the shredder, can spark, and this spark falls on a fine source of flammable material, the shredded paper in the silo. I have seen a silo fire caused by a single AA battery going through the shredder. This spark will ignite some of the paper, but as more paper is shredded and dumped on top of the smolder, it gets buried, and waits. At night, when the incinerator is being run, the smolder will gradually work its way towards the air as the shredded paper is dropped into the incinerator. This is when the smolder bursts into flame, and there is a fire in the silo. This will set off the fire alarm, and there are fire suppression means built into the silo to fight the fire. However, the fire teams will still need to open the silo doors, and using thermal cameras rake through the shredded paper looking for remaining hot spots before the all clear will happen. This can take a while.

 

Yes, fire at sea is a serious business. I've been at sea for 40 years, and seen my share. Yes, fire prevention is the most important aspect of fire fighting, and the crews are probably more aware of fire prevention than anything else in their shipboard life. To those of you who are asking for an apology from the line for the fire happening, would you expect an apology from them if the fire had started in a passenger cabin from a cigarette butt in a trash can?

 

 

 

Chengkp75,

 

Your posts are always so full of information. I never fail to read what you have posted as it is generous of you to share with us and I always learn much. Thank you for taking the time and energy to give us such good information.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FredT

We experienced our first fire in 2003 on the Rotterdam. We were anchored out from Grenada. People were still tendering back to the ship when a fire broke out on the Lido Deck. Emergency lights around a storage area door burst -- catching the wood on fire as well as some stored items in the room. The captain came on and ordered back to their cabins and to dress warmly and get on their life jackets. In the mean time people were ordered off the tenders and the tenders were ordered back to the ship. The captain came on every few minutes giving us an update on the fire. It was put out successfully and about 1/2 hour later everything was back to normal. That area was roped off for clean-up.

Since that time we have been on several ships when there were fires in the silos (what some captains called them) which are the incinerators.

Not all fires are reported to the authorities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<snip>

Not to alarm anyone further, but fires onboard are a fairly common occurrence.

 

Here is a great example of why most large companies prevent employees from commenting about the company. This is a very alarming statement.

 

We actually cancelled our winter cruise aboard the Westerdam after it experienced its fire from Seattle. I no longer feel confident sailing on that ship. Most of the lines sailing under the CCL banner have a less than stellar safety performance. Enthusiasts can come on this board and defend the lines' actions all they wish, but it does not negate the fact that there are cruise lines that have better safety records.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not all fires are reported to the authorities.

 

You make my point. We are on a HAL message board here, so most everyone who posts about a fire here is talking HAL. If this were on the Carnival section, the stories would all be about Carnival fires... and on and on.

 

Ive been on board 2 cruise ships that "had fires". One a NCL ship (In port in Freeport) and one a Cunnard ship. (The Countess in 1980) Both were minor, and to my knowledge neither was "reported" anywhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a great example of why most large companies prevent employees from commenting about the company. This is a very alarming statement.

 

We actually cancelled our winter cruise aboard the Westerdam after it experienced its fire from Seattle. I no longer feel confident sailing on that ship. Most of the lines sailing under the CCL banner have a less than stellar safety performance. Enthusiasts can come on this board and defend the lines' actions all they wish, but it does not negate the fact that there are cruise lines that have better safety records.

 

 

 

 

Do you know how many fires occur in a good sized city or town in a day, week , month?

 

How many break ins, shootings, domestics , rapes, etc ?

 

 

For every one that makes the front page or top story on the 11 o'clock news, a lot more go unnoticed

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thinking back, it seems that fires on a ship are quite common, and we've had an alarm on many cruises. It is reassuring how quickly they are dealt with. I appreciate Chengkp's explanation.

I do too!

 

I read with interest the comments above that HAL has had "more than their share" of fires.

 

Perhaps HAL is more prone to sounding the alarm when they have a minor incident... But more fires? I somehow dont think so. Google "Passenger ship fires" and you will find a web site devoted to the subject . Within THAT site they have a page devoted to "Significant" cruise ship fires since 1970.

 

There have been about 40, and only 3 are HAL. (And one of them is the Westerdam a couple months ago, and I dont know if I would consider THAT "significant"....)

 

In comparison, SIXTEEN have been Carnival ships.....

 

See it here: http://www.cruiseshipfires.com/Fires/cruise_ship_fires.html

 

I can't imagine anyone complaining about this fire & the way it was handled! Those who were on board should commend the crew for their professionalism, not complain about losing sleep & they should explain to their children what could happen on board a ship, plane or in a car! The crew of the Noordam put their lives on the3 line every day to protect their Psgrs..Of course children would be frightened, but it's better that they know of the risks.. Even schools have fire drills..

 

What is scary are the pictures of the ships which have had serious fires, bombs etc. on board where both Crew & Psgrs died...

 

http://www.cruiseshipfires.com/

 

DH was once a volunteer firefighter & all of those men put their lives on the line for others just like the Noordam crew did.. The first thing my DH always did, when we had new guests aboard our boat was point out how to put on their life jackets & where the fire extinguishers were on board..

 

IMO no one should cruise who is not aware of the many accidents/fires which could happen on board a cruise! Wake up people accidents happen all the time on land, sea & in the air!

Edited by serendipity1499
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am concerned about all the fire comments. We too have been onboard when the fire alarm has gone off. A few times it was on ships that had open laundry rooms. Twice people had left the iron sitting on the board and the alarm was set off. This was passenger responsibility. Another time is was a malfunctioning dryer. This is probably why most of the new ships do not have laundry facilities for passengers to use. I am thankful that the crew is so well trained to take care of all the incidents that occur!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a great example of why most large companies prevent employees from commenting about the company. This is a very alarming statement.

 

We actually cancelled our winter cruise aboard the Westerdam after it experienced its fire from Seattle. I no longer feel confident sailing on that ship. Most of the lines sailing under the CCL banner have a less than stellar safety performance. Enthusiasts can come on this board and defend the lines' actions all they wish, but it does not negate the fact that there are cruise lines that have better safety records.

 

I bolded your last statement as very interested in knowing which large cruise lines have a better safety record than those under the Carnival Corp & PLC banner? Also would you also tell us how you know this to be true?

 

BTW HAL is not under the CCL (Carnival Cruise Lines) banner.. HAL & CCL are both under Carnival Corp. & PLC. as well as 10 other cruise lines are..

 

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We try to make the crew drills as realistic as possible, and this will include the use of "Hollywood" smoke generators borrowed from the production show crew. Unfortunately, we cannot do this in passenger cabin areas, for just the reasons you state, so it is done in crew accommodation areas. We will, however, frequently drill in the theaters, or dining rooms using smoke, and there will always be some confusion, as guests will not have paid attention to the announcements regarding the drills. Many times we have to detail security to keep guests away from the drills, because they are there taking pictures on their phones, which distracts the crew, and doesn't add to the realism of the drill.

 

Most crew drills will "get out of control" to the point where the ship needs to be abandoned, as this is how they blend the fire/emergency drill with the abandon ship drill, both of which are required. We normally watch the gangway passenger count to hold off on drills until the pax count is as low as possible onboard.

 

That's interesting because that has not been my experience in watching the crew drills as a passenger. But I admit I have not seen every one, though I have observed at least two on every cruise. I also spoke to a few officers and asked about the drills (not during them) and they said it's computer programmed and no-one knows what they will involve, not even the Captain. I understood the only thing that the Captain/staff had control of in the crew drills was the timing of scheduling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes! Of course I do. I'm sure the navy has a procedure for bailing out on populated areas, and it includes trying their best to avoid it. Bailing out in general and over population in particular. In fact in my country is severely discouraged to have military flighs over cities for the same reason.

But in any case, we are not talking military ships. There is a different risk involved in that case.The most approximate thing would be a commercial jet, and when there is a fire, there is always an apology, as you are not expected to have to endure it. It doesn't matter that the procedures were perfect, and the crew managed perfectly. They will apologize because in the end it was their plane what broke up.

 

 

 

So lets go back to open flame cooking. It's a little bit inconvenient to reduce the risk, so lets ignore it.

 

 

In the same place than organic residues. You mash it with water and just dump it. It's safe, biodegradable and not a fire risk.

I'm sure there are other solutions.

 

Okay, here's the problem. Per the IMO's MARPOL (marine pollution) regulations, you are not allowed to dispose of ANYTHING at sea, other than ground food waste. And in the Greater Caribbean Area, discharging ground food waste is strictly limited. So you'll have to go fight the IMO and 20 years of pollution regulations to get that one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DH and I were having lunch with a Captain some number of cruises ago. His phone sounded, he received the message and excused himself explaining there was a fire reported. He told us where it was but I won't say as it could identify who/ship and I don't wish to do that. We never heard a public announcement but when we saw the Captain the next day, he told us where and how it started and how and how quickly it was extinguished. We likely do not hear about a great many events that occur on the ships we sail and I, for one, think that is just fine. I don't feel a need to know. I only need to have confidence in the cruise line I am sailing and the Officers and crew charged with taking care of us.

 

Edited by sail7seas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's interesting because that has not been my experience in watching the crew drills as a passenger. But I admit I have not seen every one, though I have observed at least two on every cruise. I also spoke to a few officers and asked about the drills (not during them) and they said it's computer programmed and no-one knows what they will involve, not even the Captain. I understood the only thing that the Captain/staff had control of in the crew drills was the timing of scheduling.

 

That may be true at HAL, but I don't feel that this gives a true training experience. Generally, the Safety Manager onboard sets the drill parameters, so that he can set smoke pots, stage "casualties", block exits, etc, to give each drill in a particular space a new "feel" each time. Sometimes we would even block off one of the fire team's equipment lockers to see how they reacted and how quickly they could gear up from their backup equipment locker. At NCL, the Captain, Staff Captain, Staff Chief Engineer, and Safety Manager would meet prior to the drill to discuss how it would progress. Most officers in these positions have done weekly drills for 20+ years, and know how they should progress, so surprise isn't necessary. Besides, there are fire plans for how to deal with fires in virtually every space onboard, that give the officers great detail on how best to approach a situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I find fascinating about this thread is that people find normal to have fire on a ship.

I feel totally impossible to accept that a fire developing is normal operation, and there is no one to blame. It should be something extremely unlikely, or that was what I expected.

Tha fact that it was correctly and professionally dealt with should not make us forget that it shouldn't have happened in the first place. It's like saying the boat sank, but it was no biggie as everyone got off safely, we just were a bit inconvenienced by the tendering experience :). I understand that even in that situation it could be worse(Concordia, Sewol) but all of you think that that would be right? Sometimes ships sink, we all know that, but they shouldn't.

And by no means am I asking for a compensation, but maybe an "sorry for having a fire" should be proper.

 

So what you are saying is that no town of 3000+ people needs a fire department? Since fires should never have happened in the first place, why pay for a fire department? Do you have to blame someone every time there is a fire in your town/city? What about lightning strikes, tornados that break gas lines, who's to blame for these?

 

Saying that fires onboard ships should never happen is like saying that there should never be train accidents, car accidents, people falling down stairs at your home or place of work, or industrial worker's injuries. Sure, none of these SHOULD happen, but news flash, they do every day, and there is no way to stop them happening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of the TripInsuranceStore.com Jan '22
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: AmaWaterways - Journey Through Europe
      • ICYMI Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Q&A with Silversea Cruises
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...