An Cosantóir

February 2019

An Cosantóir the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces.

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Page 23 of 39

An Cosantóir February 2019 24 | There, students are trained to the exacting standards of a navy that learned its lessons in combat, for example during some of the most horrendous actions of the Falklands War. While these facilities are among the most advanced in the world, the more basic facilities available at the NMCI are more than capable of providing a challenging training environment. The DCFF School is one of the busiest of the Naval College sub- schools, with hundreds of students passing through its class- rooms each year. Senior instructor, PO/HA Keith Mallon, explains: "Our naval training is kept inline with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirements. We are also responsible for delivering DCFF training to civilian students here in the NMCI." Asked what he considers the most important aspects of the school's training, he says: "I'd sum them up as knowledge, compe- tency and realism. "We have to ensure that our training is at the correct level and is kept current; that's the knowledge element. Then we have to en- sure the competency of not just the students who must leave here able to perform their assigned roles in a competent manner, but also of our instructional staff who are responsible for maintaining standards. There is no room for error. The realism is achieved through training with the kit in use each day on our ships. We start off with the basic building blocks of theory and drills, then build on that foundation, applying mea- sured pressure to the students, mentoring the weaker ones and challenging the leaders." The other vital part of DCFF training is carried out by the Fleet Operational Readiness, Standards and Training (FORST) unit, which achieves its mission by assisting ships' OCs by providing guidance, sea training and assessment to generate and maintain the five pillars of operational capability: operational viability, sus- tainability, readiness, interoperability and deployability. Training received by NS personnel is delivered at the standards set by FORST, which in turn ensures that the training, SOPs and drills been used in the fleet are maintained at that standard. In or- der to achieve this, FORST co-ordinates the efforts of Operations, Support and Naval College Commands to ensure that a plan/do/ check/adjust loop is completed, tailored to each individual ship. Plan: FORST plans the correct approach to achieve the op capabil- ity based on the requirements directed by the OCNOC and in liaison with Support and Naval College Commands. DO: FORST co-operates with Naval College and Support Com- mands to ensure delivery of high-quality service to the fleet that is constantly changing to meet current demands. CHECK: FORST checks the standards, equipment, personnel train- ing competencies and op capability through assessment and sea training. ADJUST: Having worked through the first three stages, FORST will advise of necessary adjustments to training and support efforts. FORST also carries out research into new techniques or equip- ment to better enable front-line sailors to cope with what ever is thrown at them. Exercises di- rected by the unit on ships range from the most basic fire drills, to elaborate multiple incident events where simulated fires, flooding and casualties are used test the crew's ship's knowledge, their DCFF competence and their deter- mination to save their ship. All of this training translates into a highly co-ordinated response to any event by a well drilled crew. Onboard each vessel designated emergency re- sponse teams are in place at all times to respond instantly to a fire alarm or other emergency: the Standing Sea Emergency Party (SSEP), normally the CPO/ERA and three other NCOs; the Attack Breathing Apparatus (A/BA) team, normally two personnel; the Containment Team, normally the PO/HA and one other. On the first sound of an alarm these teams will switch on their radios, and don their anti-flash hoods and gloves over their General Duty Rig. The A/BA team will head to one of the two stations where their pre-checked BA sets are on standby. Within seconds a pipe will broadcast the location of the alarm that has been set off. Arriving at the scene of the alarm, the SSEP will be fully pre- pared to face a fire with first aid fire fighting appliances such as extinguisher or centre feed hose reel. This is because every alarm will be treated as a fire until the SSEP determine it is not. To do otherwise would be to risk allowing a minor fire the time to take hold and spread. The IC of the SSEP will then investigate and report 'no fire' or call the ship to emergency stations, which will rouse the entire crew to muster at their stations. The bottom line is that every sailor onboard a ship is a fire fighter because fire is the ever present danger.

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