Fire and Rescue ‘HAZMAT’ crews complete dangerous substance exercise on bulk tanker - Port Botany

Published: 15 May 2024 09:16am

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) hazardous materials (HAZMAT) experts and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority have successfully conducted a specialist training exercise on board a bulk container ship at Port Botany in Sydney.

The firefighters, from FRNSW’s HAZMAT-qualified station at Alexandria, have spent three years training in ship-boarding by boat, helicopter winching and insertions at sea techniques, to prepare for operations such as Exercise Noxium, with AMSA, NSW Ports and the Port Authority of NSW.

In this latest simulation, the crew was called to investigate the discovery of an ‘unknown’ dangerous substance on board the vessel.

Reaching the container ship by AMSA ‘fast attack’ boat, a joint FRNSW-AMSA “Recon” Team cleared the area, isolated the ‘substance’ and obtained a sample for further investigation.

It relayed ‘crucial’ information to FRNSW Command and AMSA officials, allowing the development of a joint response plan in accordance with Federal regulations.

For the purpose of the exercise, the ship was deemed to be carrying flammable cargo.

The simulation was part of FRNSW HAZMAT’s biannual maritime safety training.

FRNSW is Australia’s only first response agency specifically qualified to deal with Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) and can be deployed within 12 hours to a related emergency anywhere in the country.

FRNSW Team Leader for HAZMAT and Counter-Terrorism, John Bryen, said, “The fire service supports such off-shore operations under the National Plan for Environmental Emergencies.

“We prefer to deploy via helicopter where possible and either land the aircraft or winch to the deck,” Inspector Bryen said, “But when operations are close to restricted air space like this one, we can use a Port Authority firefighting vessel to access a ship in distress.

“Our firefighters undergo a lot of related training, including a week-long course at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston.

“Our crews need to be familiar with maritime conditions and the different ship designs in order to manoeuvre safely on board.”

Updated: 15 May 2024 09:20am

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