One of the first and most important duties that will be required of you is getting to know the safety equipment and its location on the vessel.

    Safety Equipment

    There are various safety systems located throughout the vessel required by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). These systems are described below and the knowledge, use and location of them will be an important part of your job.


    Fire System - The fire main is run off a fire pump that is located in the engine room. The components of the fire main are the valves and fire hoses of each numbered fire station that are located throughout the vessel; typically there is one fire station per deck. Another integral part of the fire system is the fire extinguishers that are also numbered and located throughout the vessel. Most of our vessels have fixed fire fighting systems that are piped into the engine room, located adjacent to it and can be set off from a remote location.

       A typical fire station             The fire pump on the Star of Chicago.

        (Valve, hose, wrench)

    Primary Life Saving Equipment - This equipment includes life jackets or PFDs (Personal Flotation Device- both adult and child). Children’s life jackets have to be stored apart and must also have separate signage from adult life jackets. Child jackets are generally found closest to the boarding gates. Also located throughout the vessel for the benefit of the passengers are signs that demonstrate how to properly don life jackets. Part of your duties will be to assist passengers into PFDs should an emergency arise, so you need to become familiar with where they are and how to don them.

    Secondary Life Saving Equipment - This includes life rings, some with lines attached and some with or without light floats attached. Other equipment would include the first aid kits and man overboard apparatus. Another form of life saving equipment is the associated safety signage which is located throughout the vessel which informs the passengers of safety equipment, exits and refuge areas.

    Man overboard ladder storage area

    (Ladder, work vests, net, boat hook)

    Exits. Egress & Refuge or Muster Areas - All exits on the vessel lead to either the outside, to the dock or rescue craft (also called egress) or will take the passengers to a muster or refuge area where they will be safe from fire, smoke or in case the vessel is in danger of sinking. This is usually on the top deck of the vessel.

     Click here to watch a DVD about Intro to Life Saving Equipment

    Electrical System - The electrical system on board the boats when underway is run off of two sources, the generator and the battery system. The generator is in the engine room and creates AC electricity which is distributed through the vessel by wiring. The termination points of the wiring which you will learn to identify are the breaker boxes. Each breaker box will control certain areas of the vessel that need electricity and each breaker will be marked to show you which individual breaker performs what service. It is important to know the location of each breaker box in case of an emergency and specifically all breakers marked with red zip ties- In case of fire these need to be secured. All electrical outlets onboard are equipped with outlet covers which should remain closed if not in use.


    Typical breaker panel box. Any breaker with a red zip tie needs to be

    turned off in case of fire.


    The battery system creates DC power for certain functions on the vessel such as the marine VHF radios that allow the captain to communicate with other vessels. It too will have labeled breaker boxes. The vessel’s emergency lighting system is also run off battery power. The battery system breakers will not be in the same breaker boxes as the ones using the generator system.


    Another system is the shore power system. This is used dockside only, and is a power source from land. This takes the place of the generator system and uses the same breaker boxes as the generator system. You will be instructed by a captain or senior deckhand on how to use the shore power system.


    Typical shore power connection


    Vessel Deck Plans & Layout

    It is important for you to learn the vessel’s safety equipment and deck layout, not only for the safety of the passengers, but for your own ability to understand and follow the commands of the captain and to be able to interact with the crew successfully in emergencies. You should start to become familiar with the location of the following items:

    ·         Fire stations (fire hose, valve, spanner wrench)

    ·         Fire extinguishers

    ·         First aid kits

    ·         Life rings

    ·         PFDs (adult & child)

    ·         Emergency fuel shutoff

    ·         Emergency escape hatches

    ·         All exits/egress areas (gates)

    ·         Muster stations/refuge areas

    ·         Man over board equipment and pick up areas

            (Work vests, ladder, life sling, boat hook, lower deck MOB gate)

    ·         Float lights (strobes)

    ·         Electrical panels

    ·         Anchor and associated equipment

    ·         Emergency alarm bells

    ·         Fixed fire fighting system

    ·         Emergency shut downs for Engine room vents/ Fan shut offs


    The next few pages contain sample deck layouts for the Bright Star.




    Click here for the next section



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