By Lucy Chabot Reed
Three marine industry companies are hosting a first-ever firefighting challenge for yacht crew. The inaugural FlameOut 2017 will pit the crews of up to eight yachts against each other in a series of timed events to award the best skilled firefighting crew out there.
“You don’t hear a lot about fires on yachts,” said Carl Lessard of AIG, one of the organizers and sponsor of the event. “Usually, the details are squashed by insurance companies or owners don’t want to talk about it. But I spent a lot of time working through this process, having a yacht repaired after a fire, and I learned a lot from that.”
One of the chief things is the importance of the teamwork of the crew in assessing and fighting the fire. So in FlameOut, yacht crews will be asked to perform several firefighting tasks that they have learned in training and practice during onboard drills including a dress-out drill, search and rescue, and extinguishing several fires.
Resolve Maritime Academy performs these drills and competitions for the U.S. Navy each fall, so adapting the competition for yacht crew made sense.
“Yacht crew very rarely get a chance to put their training to use,” said Cliff Charlock, fire school manager at Resolve Maritime Academy in Fort Lauderdale. “This is a way to see what they remember, all their training, all their drills, all their safety plans. We know they work as a team and they drill about it. Now they have a chance to take what they’re learning and do it.”
Each yacht’s captain and engineer will compete in one final challenge, entering and docking in a busy port with mechanical failures in Resolve’s Class A full mission bridge simulator. This part of the challenge will require a high level of skill and communication between the captain and the engineer.
All events will be timed and judged by one or more of Resolve’s maritime instructors. Points will be awarded for the first three finishers in each competition. The team with the highest total points will win the FlameOut Cup.
“As an insurance company, we plan on losses every year,” AIG’s Lessard said. “What we don’t want to see is anyone getting hurt.”
That includes not only the crew onboard but also the firefighters called in to fight a fire. AIG and Resolve have worked together for several years to train municipal firefighters in yachting cities around the U.S. how to fight fires on yachts. The Triton is also helping to organize the event, promoting it to yacht crew and handling registration.
FlameOut 2017 will take place in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 27, the Friday before the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Only actual yacht crew of at least six on yachts of at least 150 feet can participate. Two of the team’s members must be certified in advanced firefighting, and all must be certified in basic firefighting. At least two members of the team/crew must be women.
To register, visit www.the-triton.com/flameout and complete the form. Teams will be verified for acceptability and invitations to participate will follow.
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.