Fire-fighting training at Phoenix, 1986


Firstly, apologies if you read this on the Army site, in response to the q about wind-ups.

Were any of you guys running the fire-fighting training at Phoenix in the mid-1980s? The reason I ask is...

Firefighting training at HMS Phoenix, 1986.
I'd been in RN about 8 weeks or so and was a very green young Midshipman pilot student. Of course, Jack loves such people.

The firefighters tell us that we're going to make up our own extinguishers and go in to fight an oil fire. Now, it seemed to me that this fire-fighting stuff was fairly full-on, scary sh*t, but hey, what do I know - only been in two months, so shut up and get on with it. After all, they wouldn't risk an accident with a bunch of expensive aircrew people - would they?

So, they handed out 18 extinguisher casings, 18 CO2 charges, 18 trigger units and...14 cups of AFFF, the stuff that turns your water into a foam that will coat and suppress an oil fire.

"Right you tw*ts, four of you haven't taken your AFfF - own up, who is it?" says the Chief fireman supervising the exercise. Blank looks all round - everyone said they'd put theirs in (which they had - but they'd only handed out 14, not 18). "OK, if no-one will own up, we'll mix up your extinguishers and you'll use what you pick up".

Well I was lucky - me and my boys went in with AFFF. Into the compartment, full of diesel and rags on fire, like the inside of hell, spotted the fire source, hit the extinguisher, fire out, job done.

The last group got two of the extinguishers with water only. They sent a huge jet of water straight into a bucket of blazing diesel, which fireballed straight back onto them. The first one out of the compartment was the instructor, like RoadRunner on speed, followed by my mates, minus extinguishers.

A couple of years later, at RNAS Culdrose, a guy from the fire section told us that this training was all changed after some visiting Admiral saw it and had a fit. When we told him about the scam with the AFFF, he said this used to happen a lot when young pigs were in the hot seat.


War Hero
So some guys were allowed to make a mistake in a controlled training environment in anti flash and a fully checked teddy bear suit with BA. That is a lesson they won't forget and I am sure it appealed to their Kinaesthetic learning styles. Good teaching method which was applied to all classes as I remember officer or not!


'Twas no mistake Chief - the firefighting man at Culdrose told us that they used to do it deliberately. I think it's quite funny looking back on it, but I'm glad I was not the guy who got fireballed. As we could see by the fact that the instructor was out first like a greyhound, it is not a good experience, BA and suit or not.


War Hero
Perhaps poor wording on my part, replace "allowed to make a mistake" with "made to make a mistake" On the final exercise when all hell is let loose I was allowed along with an RPO to descend a ladder and stand in a driptray of burning diesel, for about 3 seconds I didn't have a clue, thick black smoke and a tiny little glow, when the RPO grabbed my arm and we both suddenly realised we were V. V. hot the escape doors opened and we ran like hell "into the light" Lesson learnt! when you make a re-entry ensure the fire is actually out before you enter the compartment!

Incidentally the new training facility, with it's H&S features bear absolutely no resemblance to the old. Artificial grey smoke and on/off flames leave none of the head screaming panic you felt with the thick black smoke and ear shattering noise of the real thing.


War Hero
It used to be a reqiurement for all senior rates to do a 2 day firefighting course at Pheonix whenever they joined a new ship. I did the course a few times and always felt it offered the best training available anywhere.


War Hero
When i was a PMA(Baby Scablifter)we went to Phoenix for a firefighting course,expecting to do Advanced Extinguisher Training.5 juniors PMA's and JMA's.As class leader reported the class to the Chief who told me i looked bloody young.I asked what he meant,he meant too young to be a POMA!!!I told him i was a PMA,"so youre not a SR then?"was his next question."No" i said,"only left Raleigh a few weeks ago"
There was a distinct silence...."Ah,well too late to change now then,youre doing the full Firefighting course!"

Talk about a baptism of Fire!Mind you it was the best course i ever did!!!!


War Hero
chieftiff said:
Artificial grey smoke and on/off flames leave none of the head screaming panic you felt with the thick black smoke and ear shattering noise of the real thing.
The only time I've ever come close to panic doing firefighting was operating a waterwall as ship protection against a hatch during a practice run without wearing any BA.

The spray was horrendous, I thought I was going to drown it was that difficult to breathe. :eek:


Lantern Swinger
Remember the water well back in the late 70s when the wooden scotches never did stop the incessent deluge of freezing water freezing your nadgers off. Happy days, especially when you were gassed too!!


Lantern Swinger
Just done ISSC, excellent week, ace instructors good social, nice to meet the real Navy once in a while 42`s, 23`s all new stuff to a WAFU.
Its like Alton towers with flames and a lot more water.
Sorry to see more RN jobs going Flagship though, surely currency will be lost.


Too pink and fluffy now is Phoenix. No 'fear factor' at all. Smokey Joe's over at Horsea was absolutely fúcking terrifying. I remember my first time as a young Seaman (Misileman) having to go down that ladder first out the team and through the 'heat layer'. don't care what anyone say's about it I was screaming my head off going down that hatch. I sucked my BASCCA dry in about 5 minutes flat.
It's just a bimble through a gas lit piece of píss at Phoenix now.
I rememberdoing it in Rosyth in February in about 1989 and we had to thaw the pipes out at the beginning of each day. We wanted in the fúcking tanks then it was that cold.


Lantern Swinger
Darkershadeofblu said:
Remember the water well back in the late 70s when the wooden scotches never did stop the incessent deluge of freezing water freezing your nadgers off. Happy days, especially when you were gassed too!!
And then the sadists filled the compartment full of thick black smoke, so you could'nt see your hand in front of you face. :lol: :p 8)


Lantern Swinger

Going slightly off topic can anyone remember the Damage Control Training Unit at Chatham?

I went through Leading Cooks Course in late 70's and we had to go through this torture instrument.

The unit was two similar sized tanks, one on top of the other.

The bottom one was a small compartment about 10 ft square with a door fully clipped, inside which there were holes to be closed with box and shoring, and split pipework which had to be wedged.

The top tank was filled with water direct from the Medway, which in December is rather cool.

Scenario: First group (about 6 if I remember rightly) go in to dry compartment, Instructor opens large valve water p1sses in, grooup shore and wedge as required, we on outside bang on compt with hammers. When complete, Instrutor shuts off valve, bangs off clips to release damp ratings, water only gets to about waist high.

Second group climb in, cold water is now Knee deep (up to hatch coaming) and the derigged shoring and wedges are floating around, boxes, mallets etc are under water.

Instructor opens valve, water p1sses in, trying to find correct bits of shore in dark, cold water now passes nut level (sharp intake of breath, or standing on tippyToe) First group warm up by wellying the compt

Fingers now numb, through cold and being hit by oppo with mallet, bollux now retreating deep inside water up to chest , not so easy to welly wedges under water.

Short arses now treading water, fast deciding Fcuk this for a game of soldiers, everyone now treading water, and reaching up and clinging to the pipework.

Water level stops about 6 inches from deckhead and is fcuking sub zero, Instructor bangs on outside to warn us the door is opening, then bangs clips off.

Door explodes outwards, speed of water draining surprise the shorter members of course who "go with the flow" and are dumped on ground outside remainder clamber out shivering uncontrolably.

We are then marched to changing area to shower, this takes about an hour to bring core temp back up to safe level.

The course ended I was still shivering driving back to Pompey hours later.

Realistically it was the best DC Course I went on because it was pretty lifelike, bitter cold, noise, only thing mising was rolling, but, fcuk me was it grim.

Health & Safety wot was that :?

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