Airport firefighter duties and responsibilities are many. They have been keeping us safe while travelling by air for a long time. Air travel seems to be increasing and from the Statista website, there has been an increase in patronage of approximately 7% each year from 2006 until 2019. Therefore it is likely that the incidence of aviation emergencies is going to increase. Even if air safety improves substantially.
Responding to aircraft emergencies is what Airport firefighters do. They are generally highly trained and can analyse the environmental conditions while responding to determine the best approach.
Airport Firefighters and an understanding of the environment
Understanding the environment is critical considering that, potentially, there are a number of lives at risk. These conditions include knowledge of aircraft, big and small. Where equipment selection must be done effectively to ensure that firefighting objectives and strategies can be undertaken and achieved in rapid succession.
Once Airport firefighters arrive on the scene they understand that many hazards and personal injury risk scenarios are likely. This is where training and constant practice allows, mostly unused firefighting skill, to be used in a competent and proficient manner. Many travelers are relying on such knowledge.
By selecting the best path into an area the airport firefighter will be able to facilitate the quick evacuation of passengers to a safe area. The position where the airport firefighters truck has located. Will also be critical in terms of the ability to use rescue techniques to release trapped passengers. Being able to move rescue equipment within a workable range could be the difference between life and death.
Airport firefighter duties and responsibilities include conducting operations in the field.
Over the years and with analysis of aircraft crashes there has been a need to regulate airport emergency response. We can all feel a little better with regulations determining how much firefighting and rescue equipment will be available at a given airport.
Operationally there need to be enough airport firefighters to carry out rescue and firefighting operations quickly and effectively. This is one aspect that is regulated and not left to airport management to determine.
As most airport firefighters will tell you. During major emergencies, conditions are forever changing until at least the situation is brought under control. It’s important that as tactics change in a dynamic environment. They are communicated to all on the fire’ground. Generally, this would be done in line with agency operating procedures. Using radios and other forms of communication to pass information around the fire ground.
Airport firefighters aren’t the only firefighters responding
We have spoken of the need for effective communication. This will never be more important than during multi-agency responses. When airport emergencies occur generally there is a mutual aid agreement between agencies. That will see many firefighting organisations responding to the airport. This extra equipment can be very critical in terms of supplying water and other extinguishing media.
Even though firefighters from surrounding districts may not have the specific training for aircraft firefighting. They have skills that airport firefighters can utilise to good effect if objectives and tactics are communicated well.
One would hope that this response, of other fire agencies, would simply be an extension of recent emergency exercises. Designed by airport firefighters to better prepare external firefighters for the complex and changing environment of a aircraft emergency.
Increasing future proficiency
Once the rescue services have completed their tasks there will be a transfer of control to the relevant authorities. These authorities will often put pressure on airport firefighters to hand over as soon as possible. It is essential that agencies work together and ensure this is done as seamless as possible.
When large aircraft incidents do occur there is a generally a review completed. The preservation and security of evidence is critical at all stages. If there is nothing to analyse then the review by airport firefighters and other authorities will be almost pointless.
This evidence should include every task the firefighters carried out. Including where entry was made to the aircraft and if the forcible entry was required and where it may have occurred. There is generally legislation around this type of review and an investigation will always be very thorough.
Airport firefighter training.
Keeping such investigations in the back of a firefighters mind, during extreme stress, can only be achieved by extensive training and practice. It should be second nature to analyse what is happening and where it may fit into the greater emergency response.