Marine firefighter

A marine firefighter


Marine firefighters are responsible for emergency response in case of a fire outbreak or other hazardous situations in marine environments. They actively respond to contain fires and the outbreak of other hazardous on vessels, docks and other marine facilities. They ensure the marine installation complies with health and safety regulations. They also regulate the clean-up of the scene and assess the damage.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to marine firefighter:

harbour firefighter
marine fire technician
vessel firefighter
boatmaster, firefighter
ship’s firefighter
shipboard firefighter

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally required to work as a marine firefighter. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

Marine firefighters receive most of their training through the fire academy and on-the-job training. The program teaches firefighters the basics of firefighting, including fire prevention, firefighting techniques and emergency medical response.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Marine firefighter is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Marine firefighter career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to marine firefighter.

fire service vehicle operator
pump operator
industrial firefighter
emergency response worker

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of marine firefighter. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of marine firefighter with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

fire protection technician
fire inspector
fire safety tester
store detective
ship captain

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of marine firefighter.

  • Navy operations: The operational procedures and regulations of military naval organisations, on base and on ships during missions.
  • Fire safety regulations: The legal rules to be applied for fire safety and fire prevention in a facility.
  • Hydraulics: The power transmission systems that use the force of flowing liquids to transmit power.
  • Fire prevention procedures: The regulations concerning fire and explosion prevention, and the equipment, systems and methods used in it.
  • Fire-fighting systems: The devices and systems used to extinguish fires; the classes and chemistry of fire.
  • Health and safety regulations: Necessary health, safety, hygiene and environmental standards and legislation rules in the sector of particular activity.
  • First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of marine firefighter.

  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Select hazard control: Perform appropriate selection of hazard control measures and risk management
  • Investigate maritime accidents: Investigate maritime accidents; gather evidence in the event of claims for damages.
  • Operate marine machinery systems: Operate principles of marine machinery, including marine diesel engine, steam turbine, boiler, shafting installations, propeller, various auxiliaries, steering gear, automatic control systems, and deck machinery. Follow safety and emergency procedures for operation of propulsion plant machinery, including control systems. Prepare, operate, and maintain the following machinery items and control systems: main engine and steam boiler and their associated auxiliaries and steam systems, auxiliary prime movers and associated systems and other auxiliaries like refrigeration, air-conditioning and ventilation systems. Take necessary measures to prevent damage to these systems.
  • Extinguish fires: Choose the adequate substances and methods to extinguish fires depending on their size, such as water and various chemical agents. Use a breathing apparatus.
  • Ensure vessel security: Ensure that security requirements for vessels are met according to legal norms. Check if the security equipment is in place and operational. Communicate with marine engineers to ensure that the technical parts of the vessel functioning effectively and can perform as necessary for the upcoming journey.
  • Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
  • Work as a team in a hazardous environment: Work together with others in a dangerous, sometimes noisy, environment, such as a building on fire or metal forging facilities, in order to achieve a higher degree of efficiency while heeding the co-workers’ safety.
  • Operate marine communication systems: Operate on board marine communication systems; communicate with other ships or with on-shore control centre e.g. to send urgent messages concerning safety; transmit or receive alerts, etc.
  • Manage major incidents: Take immediate action to respond to major incidents that affect the safety and security of individuals in private or public places such as road accidents.
  • Evacuate people from buildings: Evacuate a person from a dangerous building or situation for protection purposes, ensuring the victim reaches safety and is able to receive medical care if necessary.
  • Perform search and rescue missions: Assist in fighting natural and civic disasters, such as forest fires, floods and road accidents. Conduct search-and-rescue missions.
  • Use different types of fire extinguishers: Understand and apply various methods of firefighting and various types and classes of fire extinguishing equipment.
  • Manage emergency care situations: Manage situations in which decision making under time pressure is essential to save lives.
  • Prevent marine pollution: Conduct inspections and take measures in order to prevent or mitigate marine pollution. Adhere to international codes and resolutions.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of marine firefighter. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Mechanics of vessels: The mechanics involved in boats and ships. Understand the technicalities and participate in discussions over related topics in order to solve problems related to the mechanics.
  • Dock operations: Know operations that take place in docks, primarily those concerned with the incoming and outgoing of cargo shipments. Know logistics activities relating to cranes, containers, and shipments.
  • Types of maritime vessels: Know a large variety of maritime vessels and their characteristics and specifications. Use that knowledge to ensure that all security, technical, and maintenance measures are taken into account in their supply.
  • Vessel electrical system: The various components making up a vessel electrical system and the interplay between these components.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of marine firefighter. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Maintain safety systems: Perform activities for the maintenance of fire fighting and related safety systems.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Operate emergency equipment: Utilise emergency equipment and tools such as fire extinguishers, wheel chocks, pocket lamps, and warning signs.
  • Relay messages through radio and telephone systems: Possess the communication abilities to relay messages through a radio and telephone system.
  • Operate emergency vehicle: Drive and maneuver an emergency vehicle and operate its fixed equipment following standard procedures.
  • Perform preventive maintenance on fire fighting vehicles: Keep firefighting vehicles ready for use at any time. Maintain all aspects of firefighting vehicles and ensure that vehicles function correctly.
  • Install vessel’s safety equipment: Install and maintain safety equipment such as bells and horns, deck boxes holding life jackets, life boats or life raft pods, and the Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).
  • Educate public on fire safety: Develop and execute educational and promotional plans to educate the public on fire prevention knowledge and methods, fire safety such as the ability to identify hazards and the use of fire safety equipment, and to raise awareness on fire prevention issues.

ISCO group and title

5411 – Fire-fighters

  1. Marine firefighter – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Mael BALLAND on Unsplash
Last updated on November 17, 2022

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