Whatever the answer, every ARFF fire department
should strive to make its training as realistic as
possible. How you react to a real emergency is a direct
reflection on how you train.
There is no “one size fits all” training plan. Individual
training plans can and will take many different
shapes, depending upon the size of your department
and the airport you serve. The size of an airport’s
fire department depends on the ARFF Index. The
ARFF Index is determined by the size and number of
scheduled aircraft that use the airport. Again, this is a
minimum requirement, and most busy airports exceed
One important factor in your training plan is the
timing of the classes. Once the class is taught, the
fire fighter has 12 consecutive calendar months to
participate in the class again. Failure to do so could
result in the airport not having personnel who are
sufficiently qualified to maintain the ARFF Index.
One way to ensure your training is in compliance is
to schedule and conduct the training every six months.
This way, if one of your fire fighters misses training,
that person can be taught again in six months and will
remain current. Smaller departments may decide to
attend a training facility and conduct an annual 40-hour
recurrent training program. While this may meet a
majority of the training requirements, it does not meet
the local training requirements, such as vehicle operator
training and airfield familiarization. These smaller
departments will have to ensure that they supplement
this training with their own local requirements.
Now that the requirements are known and a plan
has been developed, how does FAA ensure that the
ARFF departments are maintaining the regulatory
requirements? The agency has regional teams of airport
certification safety inspectors (ACSI) who travel the
country inspecting all certificated airports to ensure
they meet the requirements of the Part 139 regulation.
The ACSI reviews all ARFF training records to ensure
completion and currency. Part 139 requires that all
ARFF departments document their training and
maintain these records for a period of 24 consecutive
calendar months. How these records are kept and
maintained is up to the airport, but they must be
available to be reviewed during the inspection.
An in-depth and comprehensive training plan
will take some time to develop, and it will require
an extensive review of Part 139 and associated ACs.
Training programs can be developed inexpensively
by using local and easily accessible resources. Be
creative, keep your fire fighters interested, and they
will continue to make a difference in the lives of those
who need their help. Good, realistic training promotes
competence in the individual fire fighter and fosters a
professional attitude. When developing and conducting
your airport’s ARFF training, keep asking yourself one
question: Are your fire fighters ready for the challenge
of an actual aircraft accident?
Marc Tonnacliff is FAA’s ARFF specialist
and has more than 30 years of experience
in the aircraft rescue fire fighting field.
He is a member of the National Fire
Protection Association’s ARFF Technical
Committee and the International Civil
Aviation Organization’s Rescue Fire
Fighting Working Group. He may be
reached at Marc. Tonnacliff@faa.gov.
There is no “one size fits all” training plan. Individual training plans can and will
take many different shapes, depending upon the size of your department and
the airport you serve.
¾ Business &