GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/AP) - A former Grand Rapids firefighter who was onboard the latest cruise ship to experience an emergency at sea is telling 24 Hour News 8 what happened.
A fire broke out just before 3 a.m. Monday in the mooring area of the Grandeur of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship, causing the 2,224 passengers and 796 crew members onboard to report to evacuation stations. Everyone was accounted for, according to Royal Caribbean's website .
West Michigan native Brian Goss, a former Grand Rapids Fire Department firefighter and current fire chief in Brentwood, Tenn., was on the ship at the time of the fire with his wife, children and some friends.
With no phone service and not enough bandwidth for Skype, 24 Hour News 8 talked to Goss through Facebook messaging to get a first-hand report of what happened on the ship. Goss said he wasn't too nervous about the fire until crew members began one step of the ship's safety procedures.
"Not really, until they detached and lowered the lifeboats," Goss said. "That was a little unnerving."
Goss said the ship's crew did a good job keeping everyone calm.
"Apparently, readying the lifeboats is a routine part of the emergency procedures," Goss said.
The ship did not lose power, and was able to continue on to the Bahamas, although it had to dock in Freeport instead of CocoCay, its original destination.
Some cabins were flooded with water from the firefighting efforts. It wasn't until just before 5 a.m. that the fire was put out and just before 7 a.m. when passengers could leave the evacuation stations, according to the cruise line's website.
"The halls smelled of smoke last night but we are far enough away from the fire that it really didn't affect us," Goss said.
24 Hour News 8 also asked Goss if, once he knew his family was safe, he went into fire-chief mode in the midst of the emergency.
"I assumed that the professionals fighting the fire had things under control, which they did," Goss said. "Shipboard firefighting is a unique animal and they are well-trained and well-practiced. I simply tried to help keep people calm at our muster station, as anxiety was high among some of the older passengers."
As for recent problems aboard cruise ships, Goss said it never worried him before, and still doesn't.
"We just drew the short straw this time," Goss said. "We wouldn't hesitate to go again, though."
Goss said he couldn't say enough about the Royal Caribbean staff and how they accommodated guests during the fire and its aftermath.
"I can't say enough about the Royal Caribbean staff," Goss said. "Up all night in emergency mode and now serving food and drinks with smiling faces and no sleep. Amazing."
The Grandeur of the Seas cruise was not the first cruise Goss and his family have taken, and not the first adventure they had.
On the last cruise he took, Goss saved the life of a passenger having a heart attack, proving firefighters and other emergency workers are never truly off the job.
The Grandeur of the Seas was on a seven-night trip that left Baltimore, Md., on Friday and was set to cruise to Port Canaveral, Fla., CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.
There were no medical emergencies related to the fire, according to Royal Caribbean's website .
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