FireAid does not take the safety of passengers and crew lightly. They gave us the inside scoop on what it takes to ensure the safety of their crew during retrofitting, dry dock, at sea, and more.
Q: Technology is progressing at an extremely rapid rate. How is this affecting how you approach onboard safety?
Technology has advanced in many areas within the shipping industry with much of the focus being on the passenger experience, as well as hardware technology throughout the vessel.
One area we still see mainly run with paperwork, folders and records are the safety elements, with paper checklists and paper permits being used throughout the industry. Whilst many like to see a paper version with a real signature, the value these checklist and permits bring can often be underestimated and weaken their effectiveness.
We have introduced a range of on-board paperless solutions to this issue, which is intended to reduce time and increase effectiveness of these systems.
Fire Aid’s computer-based permit system allows crew to make permit requests in multiple locations throughout the vessel. These will then instantly be communicated to the risk analyses Officer who will complete an electronic risk assessment at the location of the risk activity. Once complete it can be digitally authorised by the Senior Authorising Officer such as the Staff Captain.
This reduces time and places more emphasis on the risk analysis element rather than spending time gathering signatures and approvals.
For any permit system to function correctly it needs to be simple, efficient and effective, adding a layer of safety to a high-risk activity.
Digitalising this process also enable fleet wide visibility of daily risks, along with data logging and a fully track-able process, which delivers a stronger auditable process and reduces unnecessary paperwork and archives.
Q: What are the challenges of teams operating onboard a vessel undergoing refit?
Refits are a time of considerable risk and challenges, initially with the demolition phase and then the rebuild phase, contractors are placed under increasing pressure to deliver huge projects within a short amount of time and within budget to minimise the down time of the vessel.
We regularly see and hear of contractors complaining about the permit process during dry docks, which can be slow and time consuming, costing lost working time and increasing the likelihood of delays to their projects or causing them to run projects in an unsafe manner without a permit or the correct equipment for the task.
The solution is simple, streamline the permit process, so contractors can request permits fast and efficiently, and more importantly, obtain the permits and permission without delay to their workers and projects.
Fire Aid’s permit system is designed exactly with that in mind, by running a live digitalised permit system which shows all the permit request locations, the active permits and any suspended or closed permits.
Risk assessments are made digital, which generates a faster, more efficient assessment and contractors are able to work without delay.
Contractors are also challenged by often being required to make their permit requests the day before they are required and if a last minute change is needed this is a difficult process or may not be allowed at all. A live system removes the need for advanced permit requests as this can be assessed at the moment of request and Safety personnel are able to see on the system other live permits and risks within that area.
Dry docks present many challenges but obtaining a permit to work shouldn’t be one of them as this will only increase the likelihood of contractors skipping this process or delaying them and thus working unsafely.
With access control of ships being top of mind, how can ports and the cruise lines work with safety and security professionals to prevent security breaches?
Security and safety are very different subjects, which can at times contradict each other. As Security wants to lock down and secure as much as possible, while safety means we may need access to areas in an emergency without delay unlocking doors or reaching equipment.
However, by combining the two elements we can reach both goals and reduce time for both areas.
Fire Aid’s Cloud Patrol Safety Platform is designed to allow both security officers and safety personnel to work together whilst making security and safety checks throughout the ship.
By utilising NFC (Near Field Communication) tagging technology, personnel can make both safety and security rounds throughout the vessel, these rounds are recorded on the system and have built in check lists to ensure the personnel making the round knows both what to check and when to check. This maximises the efficiency of the crew and enables security staff to additionally make safety checks and vice versa safety staff to make security checks, increasing both elements.
We are also using facial recognition software and location tags to identify authorised personnel in restricted access areas and enable location detection for loan workers or personnel in high-risk areas such as engine rooms.
Q: How has onboard emergency preparedness changed in recent years?
On board emergency preparedness used to be the focus of the Ships Officers and Crew only, leaving out many of the staff working in the hotel, food, beverage and entertainment departments as paid passengers in the event of an emergency.
This placed significant pressure on the limited ship crew to not only to take care of the passengers but also take care of many ship staff as well.
With the STCW Manila Amendments, this has obviously changed the emergency preparedness on board for most shipping companies, meaning all crew must be trained and competent in an emergency.
However, with the increased need for trained personnel, many pop-up training centres began operating, with significantly varied standards and instruction.
This is the new challenge faced by shipping companies, knowing how well their crew are trained before they arrive on board as this will have a considerable effect on how good the emergency preparedness will be in a real situation.
Fire Aid prides its standard of excellence when it comes to emergency preparedness, focusing our training around this subject, which is our industry expertise, rather than offering dozens of various courses at a lower standard of training.
After all, you wouldn’t employ a gardener to build your house so why leave training to centres with limited true knowledge of actual emergency preparedness.
Fire Aid also delivers emergency preparedness on board vessels, which generates amazing results, working with the Officers and Crew in their environment and identifying areas for development.