findings on a variety of topics, including ARFF and
Training is a vital requirement and important
component in being a successful and fully competent
ARFF fire fighter. It enables fire fighters to maintain
and improve their proficiency, and provide the level of
safety the flying public has come to expect.
What type of training is needed? ARFF training
is divided into three areas: initial, recurrent
1. Initial training: Initial training is when fire
fighters learn the basics of fighting fires. It enables
personnel to identify and interpret basic and
advanced fire fighting theories, and concepts and
principles of ARFF. Trainees also must be able to
apply these principles to the aircraft serving the
airport and demonstrate all required tasks safely
and accurately. The new fire fighters learn basic
knowledge about how to use the equipment and
components that will enable them to do their job.
The goal is to provide sufficient initial training and
instruction so the new fire fighters can function
as a part of a team. FAA requires all fire fighters to
complete their initial ARFF training prior to being
assigned to ARFF duties. Initial training is not
complete until individuals have finished all basic
2. Recurrent training: Recurrent training is provided
at least once every 12 consecutive calendar months,
and more frequently, if needed, to ensure fire
fighters maintain a satisfactory level of competency.
Recurrent training will vary from airport to airport
and from one fire fighter to another.
3. Proficiency Training: This is training that
assists in maintaining competence by practicing
initial skills and reinforcing knowledge. Training
to proficiency means training to a standard of
knowledge and competence.
Proficiency is the key to a successful ARFF response,
and FAA recommends a comprehensive, continuous
and robust training program. It should encompass not
only the subjects specified in 14 CFR Part 139.319, but
also those additional areas of special interest defined
in local standard operating procedures, memorandums
of agreement, memorandums of understanding and
standard operating guidelines.
Our busiest airports provide services for millions of
passengers annually, and travelers arrive and depart in
a myriad of fashions. Airports are served by commuter
trains, subways, or their own underground or elevated
rail systems and moving walkways. This may put
another layer of responsibility on these fire fighters.
In addition to the FAA-required training, these ARFF
departments also train and respond in other specialized
areas of rescue for the people they protect.
With the training requirements in place, let’s examine
the training plan and what it entails. The chief officer
or the training chief evaluates the types, methods and
facilities available to conduct the required training. A
training officer needs to answer the following questions:
■ ■ What is the total realm of responsibility for the ARFF
department? Is it solely ARFF? Structural as well?
■ ■ What are the unique conditions of the airport, its
environment and its operations?
■ ■ What is a realistic budget?
■ ■ What facilities are available to use?
■ ■ Are there alternative methods to deliver the training?
■ ■ What training schedule is needed to ensure that all
ARFF fire fighters are fully compliant with the ARFF
training requirements all year?