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Page Title: Fire and Fire Fighting
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FIRE AND FIRE FIGHTING Fire   is   a   constant   threat   aboard   ship. Personnel  must  take  all  possible  measures  to prevent a fire or, if one is started, to extinguish it quickly. Fires have several causes: spontaneous combustion, carelessness, hits by enemy shells, or a  collision.  If  the  fire  is  not  controlled  quickly, it   could   cause   more   damage   than   the   initial casualty  and  could  cause  the  loss  of  the  ship. Fighting fires is primarily handled by repair parties.  However,  you  must  learn  all  you  can about fire fighting so that you will know what to do  if  called  upon. Fires  are  classified  into  four  types  based  on the type of material burning and the fire-fighting agents and methods required to extinguish the fire: 1.  Class  A  fires  involve  solid  materials  that leave  an  ash,  such  as  wood,  cloth,  and  paper. Water  is  the  primary  means  of  extinguishing  class A  fires.  Carbon  dioxide  (C02)  may  be  used  on small fires, but not on explosives. The flames of a  large  fire  usually  must  first  be  knocked  down (cooled)  with  fog.  The  material,  particularly mattresses and similar articles, is then broken up with  a  solid  stream  for  further  cooling. 2.  Class  B  fires  involve  flammable  liquids such  as  oil,  gasoline,  and  paint.  The  best extinguishing  agent  for  class  B  fires  is  aqueous film  forming  foam  (AFFF).  Another  good extinguishing agent is Halon. Halon systems are being installed for combating class B and C fires. For small fires, or in a confined space like a paint locker, CO2  is a good extinguisher. For large fires, other  agents  such  as  a  water  fog  or  foam  must be used. A solid water stream should NEVER be used  on  a  class  B  fire.  The  stream  will  simply penetrate the flammable liquid’s surface, with no cooling  effect,    and   scatter   the   liquid,   thus spreading the fire. Class  B  fires  involve  the  three  temperature levels of flash point, fire point, and ignition point. A  small  spark  may  be  all  that  is  needed  for ignition. Fire will flash across a surface, but will not continue to burn; however, the flash may be hot  enough  to  ignite  some  other  material  or  to injure  personnel. 3.  Class  C  fires  are  those  associated  with electrical  or  electronic  equipment.  The  primary extinguishing agent is CO2, but high-velocity fog may be used as a last resort. Foam should not be used  as  it  will  damage  the  equipment  and  may present  a  shock  hazard.  A  solid  water  stream should NEVER be used. If at all possible, electri- cal  power  to  the  equipment  should  be  secured. 4.  Class  D  fires  involve  metals,  such  as magnesium, sodium, and titanium. These metals are  used  in  the  manufacture  of  certain  parts  of aircraft,   missiles,   electronic   components,   and other  equipment.    A   typical   example   is   the magnesium  aircraft  parachute  flare.  This  flare burns  at  a  temperature  above  4000°F  with  a brilliancy  of  2  million  candlepower.  Since  water coming   in   contact   with   burning   magnesium produces  highly  explosive  hydrogen  gas,  a  solid water stream should NEVER be used on this type of fire. However, low-velocity fog can put out the fire  in  a  matter  of  seconds  with  little  danger. Jettisoning   the   burning   object   overboard   is another  method. Despite  the  most  carefully  observed  safety precautions, a fire may still occur. If you discover a fire, report it immediately so that fire-fighting operations can be started. The efforts of even one person  may  contain  the  fire  until  the  arrival  of the fire party. If the fire threatens to get out of control, try to prevent it from spreading. Secure all doors, hatches, and other openings in the fire area,  including  ventilation  ducts,  to  confine  the fire within a specific boundary. You can establish a primary fire boundary by cooling all bulkheads, decks, and overheads surrounding the fire area. Always ensure dewatering equipment (pumps) is ready  for  immediate  use  in  case  of  a  fire.  The amount  of  water  used  for  fighting  the  fire  and for  cooling  purposes  may  cause  a  serious  ship stability  problem. PREVENTIVE   DAMAGE   CONTROL Naval ships are designed to resist accidental and  battle  damage.  Damage-resistant  features include  structural  strength,  watertight  compart- mentation,  stability,  and  buoyancy.  Maintaining these  features  and  a  high  state  of  material  and personnel readiness before damage does more to save  the  ship  than  any  measures  taken  after damage.  Ninety  percent  of  the  damage  control needed to save a ship takes place before damage and  only  10  percent  after  the  damage. The   division   damage   control   petty   officer (DCPO) is one person in the DC organization who helps  to  ensure  that  preventive  damage  control measures  have  been  taken.  The  DCPO  oversees the maintenance of divisional DC equipment and also  assists  in  training  divisional  personnel  in  DC. Always keep in mind that damage control is an  all-hands  evolution.  The  best  way  to  defend 17-11

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