Saturday, 10 November 2007

Fire Panel Training, Thanksgiving, and a long, long night...

Since the last post I entered on this site, I have been Fire Panel trained. This happened on Thursday. The Fire Panel is an electronic system that is connected to all the smoke detectors, heat sensors and panic buttons on the ship. It is also linked to the numerous fire doors on the ship, heavy doors that can be closed at the click of a button to slow down the progression of smoke or flames. If smoke or heat is detected (or someone presses one of the numerous panic buttons) the system immediately enters "Prewarning" and if there is a rapid increase in temperature or smoke the system registers "Fire". It is then the responsibility of the receptionist to contact (on day shift) the Duty Officer or (on night shift) the night patrolman. We then give the Duty Officer or patrolman the position of the problem, according to the nearest room number as shown on the panel. It is then up to them to investigate the cause of the problem and take the appropriate action. We then standby. We have our own radios and if we lose contact with the Duty Officer or patrolman for a period of one minute we then assume the worst and hit the "Crew Alert" alarm. This is an alarm that musters only the trained emergency personnel, such as the Fire Teams and the Emergency Medical Teams. If the situation is deemed worse enough, then the "General Crew" alarm is activated and that musters all crew on the ship to their respective muster stations. In port this would be the dock, whilst on the sea this would be up on Deck 7, at the lifeboat stations. So it has been very interesting learning about the Fire Panel and all the emergency systems in place.

After my training I did a practical exam. The Safety Officer went around setting off the detectors and it was up to me to control the situation on the Fire Panel. At the same time she had people dial the 911 phone (our Emergency phone) and I had to deal with these calls as well. After the practical exam I had to write a written test, the results of which I still wait.

On Thursday evening we had a special Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, etc) followed by an awesome Thanksgiving service in the International Lounge. We had a wonderful time of worship and had communion as well. Crew members were invited to come up front when they saw their nation's name and say a thanksgiving prayer in their mother tongue. This was very special. It is amazing to see so many people, from so many different cultures and nations, unified in a common goal and purpose - bringing glory to God.

Last night I did my first full night shift. 23h00 until 07h45 this morning. It was insanely long and I struggled to stay awake, but it was also interesting to see what I have to do during the night shift. There is about two to three hours of actual work that one must do, including ensuring all crew are accounted for and preparing things for the following day. Once I had finished my shift this morning I went and had a shower and headed back into my bunk. I slept for about four hours. Which is enough - just - for me.

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