Straight from DCFN Perkins, a Damage Control Fireman of the USS Boxer, we have a special firefighter’s treat for you! This week and next week’s firefighter’s blog are going to go over how the United States’ NAVY handles fires. Part One is going to cover the basics, the classes of fires and the equipment they use to fight them.
For fighting these fires, officers use water and something called AFFF (Aqueous Foam Forming Film) which is a mixture made up of 94% water and 6% of the AFFF base. They also use CO2 and smothering blankets depending on the size of the fire.
- The first class is called a Class Alpha. Class Alpha fires are anything with an ash or white smoke; paper, wood, people. Perkins offered a small fun fact: a person who catches fire is called “A Screaming Alpha.” For Class Alpha your basic water is used to put it out, or maybe the AFFF agent, or the blanket if it is a pretty big fire.
- Class Beta is the second class of fire; this is anything that gives off black smoke. These types of fires are the type we are well aware of, the kind that needs fuel to burn. Gas or oil would start a Class Beta. To fight a Class Beta it is always AFFF smothering the fire with the foam, to cut the fuel source. The fire will spread if water is used.
- Next there is the Class Charlie. These are your electrical fires that cause a bluish smoke. CO2 Canister is used for Class Charlie because as Perkins said “water and electricity are not friends.” They could use water but only a fog or mist setting is allowed and it is a rare thing to do.
- The fourth and last fire class is a Class Delta. Class Delta’s are the most dangerous, the combustible fires. Your thinking, “but what’s combustible on a Naval ship?” Actually some metals the ship is made out of are combustible, such as magnesium. Usually the NAVY uses sand – believe it or not! The next best thing is something called “genocide” where they push the object on fire overboard! Helicopters are made of combustible metals and if they catch fire they unlock the wheels and shove it into the ocean. In a matter of minutes the helicopter could explode so they have little time to try and quell a Class Detla.
Even surrounded by water, water, everywhere, fire can still occur and the awesome men and women of the NAVY must know how to handle these hot situations. Next Thursday we will discuss the way the NAVY go about fighting fires, step-by-step with Perkins as our guide!
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