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NEWS | Dec. 6, 2021

NAVSEA establishes new group to improve industrial fire safety

By Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

NAVSEA has established a new team with a clear focus on preventing future industrial shipboard fires and reducing risks highlighted in the investigations of previous fires.

Over the past 12 years, the Navy has suffered 14 major shipboard fires that resulted in the loss of two capital asset ships, extended availabilities, and significantly increased costs. The launch of the Industrial Fire Safety Assurance Group (IFSAG) by NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. William Galinis and Executive Director, Ms. Giao Phan, provides the command and the Navy with a team focused specifically on analyzing industrial shipboard fire metrics, and developing actions to address and reduce those risks.

“This includes hot work and electrical fires, which are top offenders, along with material handling and stowage, and compliance with fire safety requirements,” said Director of NAVSEA Industrial Fire Safety Assurance Group, Eric Duncan. “In addition, the group will drive all current and future NAVSEA actions resulting from fire investigations.

The IFSAG is designed to oversee and coordinate efforts across the command and is tasked with setting key principles for the elimination of future shipboard industrial fires. The group will report directly to Vice Adm. Galinis and Ms. Phan under the new code, SEA 00FS (Fire Safety).

“One of the most important functions of the IFSAG will be to collaborate and share lessons learned with key stakeholders in shipbuilding and maintenance,” said the Deputy Director of the group, Brian Berchtold. “IFSAG will drive change across the NAVSEA enterprise that will significantly improve the overall fire safety posture for ships in industrial environments.”

By collaborating with NAVSEA Directorates, program offices, Supervisors of Shipbuilding and Regional Maintenance Centers, the IFSAG will provide oversight to the development and improvement of industrial ship fire safety, while also serving as a fire safety resource for submarines at Trident Refit Facilities. 

“Shipboard fires in an industrial environment cannot be considered an acceptable cost of doing business,” said Duncan. Replacement costs and repairs from the major shipboard fires exceeded $6 billion over the past 12 years. Compounding this are opportunity costs from lost time deployed, as well as how this affects the warfighter and the country.

The IFSAG aims to change the cultural mentality toward fires on ships during industrial periods.

Additionally, the group will seek to clarify and improve the shipboard fire notification process.

“The IFSAG will work to comprehensively define a reportable fire, so that fires and their origins are properly reported and assessed,” said Director for Mitigating Action Resourcing and Implementation, Capt. Roberto Valletta.

Fire Safety Performance Analysis Lead, Joe Praydis, added that, “This effort will allow all stakeholders to use a single process and provide fire safety lessons learned with the force.”

The IFSAG War Room Building is slated to open in December and the team has invited employees with ideas to stop by the group’s collaborative space to share them.  “In the new War Room, audit results, fire metrics and drill performances will be shown,” said Kevin Warwick, the IFSAG Actions Manager. “If you have ideas for addressing fire safety on ships, please take action and share them with us.” Technical Navy reference compliances and non-compliances will also be visualized with the support of Technical Publication Content Director.

In alignment with the “One NAVSEA” collaborative efforts across the command, the IFSAG needs everyone’s help to improve the Navy’s fire safety posture.  “The adage ‘see something, say something’ directly applies as the condition you report may prevent the next major fire,” said Duncan.