This year, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) hosted the 29th Annual Robert E. Rumens Marine Firefighting School. Beginning in 1991, the Marine Firefighting School originally hosted only local firefighters from the Hampton Roads area. Over the years, this program has grown to include students from all over the world. This training allowed NNSY to share its expertise in firefighting aboard industrial vessels with future members of the Port of Virginia’s Marine Incident Response Team (MIRT).
The primary mission of the Port of Virginia MIRT is to provide immediate on-scene maritime advice and act as a liaison agency with the United States Coast Guard and other state and local incident commanders when responding to all hazard-type incidents in the maritime environment. . The MIRT promotes maritime response capabilities in the Port of Virginia through an ongoing program of training, exercises, resources, and ongoing support and coordination through port partnerships.
The MIRT is the first organization of its kind in the United States and is unique to any port. The concept of a Coordinated Marine Response Team originated in 1984 when Bill Burket, now director of MIRT, attended a Coast Guard-run train-the-trainer course for marine firefighting. , Hampton Roads did not have a collaborative response team in place capable of responding to a fire or hazardous material release in a port environment. By combining efforts with the Virginia Maritime Association, the Virginia Coast Guard Sector, and the Navy Fire Fighting School, the MIRT was created.
The first attendees of the Marine Firefighting School were primarily firefighters from the local fire departments. It is from these participants that the cadre of MIRT staff was formed. Since then, it has grown and now welcomes students from all over the United States. This year’s participants came from twenty-two agencies and fourteen states. This training was key to sharing knowledge across the industry, with the program building lasting connections, building on the resources, knowledge and expertise, which can be called upon in the event of a major fire in edge.
Alyx Riebeling, NNSY Emergency Management Specialist, said, “As a participant in the 24th Annual Robert E. Rumens Marine Firefighting School, I was very pleased to be able to help coordinate visit requests. of Bill Burket, director of the MIRT, and to have the support of the NNSY. this year’s program. With the coordination of the USS Toledo (SSN 769), the ex-[USS] McKee (AS-41), Radiological Controls (Code 105), Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (Code 106), Operations (Code 300), Security and Fire (Code 1120), Emergency Management (Code 1130), NNSY Fire and Emergency Services and NNSY Security Forces, we were able to simultaneously run tours for approximately 100 mutual aid firefighters on two ship platforms and through a dry dock, while providing presentations on CONEX damage control boxes and responding to onboard fires in a shipyard.
The tours allowed participants to receive onboard fire response training and demonstrations at a shipyard. It also allowed them to return home to their agencies to share what they learned.
NNSY was able to provide these students with a unique insight into onboard firefighting in an industrial shipyard environment, as well as the opportunity to tour a submarine and former submarine. Providing these tours to prospective MIRT members and training them in a shipyard environment helps build a strong partnership with MIRT and local fire departments that respond to NNSY for training, exercises, and real-world events.