Boeing provides the benchmark
for aircraft construction and
familiarization at its plants in
Washington. These sessions are
posted on the ARFFWG site and
fill up fast. Seeing how the aircraft
are built and putting your hands
on them at Boeing will make you a
better ARFF firefighter. This isn’t
free, but it’s really valuable. The cost
depends on your travel expenses.
At your own airport, your
marketing and engineering folks can
help you obtain maps, diagrams,
blueprints and more to augment
your airport familiarization
program. Maps can be made
showing hydrants, pipelines, power
runs, hazards, egress and more.
They can provide you with pictures
and graphics. Most can be printed
as large format.
The National Fire Academy,
nfa/ index.html, and the Emergency
Management Institute, http://www.
offer great online classes, as well as
classes in every state and at their
Emmitsburg, Maryland, campus.
They provide more resources than
you can use.
FEMA, www.fema.gov, offers
free National Incident Management
System (NIMS) training and
incident management training.
If selected to attend either
the National Fire Academy or
Emergency Management Institute,
FEMA will pay for everything
except the wages or salary of the
attendee and the person backfilling
his or her position during their
absence. Your local emergency
planning committee (LEPC) and the
emergency managers from your city
or county also can help with NIMS
training and airport emergency
planning. In addition, they evaluate
and support exercises. Many have
master exercise practitioners who
can help you develop drills.
Recovery and business continuity
are fire service buzzwords now.
Emergency managers have been
making these types of plans for
years. LEPCs often act as hosts
or a clearinghouse for a wide
variety of emergency training. The
National Transportation Safety
Board Academy has some expensive
offerings but also provides some
free seminars that can help
you in your post-crash family
When you meet with your mutual
aid providers, make sure you give
them the maps they need to be able
to help you. Feed them. Ask them
a lot of questions. Show them the
airport. Those providers can help
you with training on all kinds of
topics at many levels. Work on that
relationship. Consider having the
airport provide training space or
ground for their drills. Participate.
They may have instructors to help
Aircraft that remain overnight
at your airport can provide prime
training opportunities. At the end
of the day, airlines are not under
pressure to load and go. Be sure to
let your station managers know of
your need to do this.
Finally, get an old plane to use for
training. Adults learn best through
hands-on training. Many companies
frequently donate used aircraft for
this purpose. There could be an old
junker somewhere on the airfield.
Aircraft recyclers, if you are lucky
enough to have one nearby, are a
great resource for aircraft. So are
aircraft mechanics’ schools. Check
with junkyards and area military
bases. If there is a military base
nearby, build a relationship there.
Many Defense Department bases
have a fire pit and only charge for
the propane. If they are going to
grind old aircraft, they will usually
let you do nearly anything you want
to them. Often crashed aircraft don’t
ever fly out. Many of my colleagues
who now have training aircraft
made the contacts for those planes
through the ARFF Working Group.
These are only a few ideas you
can use to bring value to your
airport. You still have to do live
burns, tires for crash trucks still
cost over $3,000, and things break
if you practice. But you can obtain
economies through the high-yield
ideas I’ve listed.
Our job is to save the people
in the tube. We’re going to have
Battalion Chief Matt Mauer, a 28-year
veteran of the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire
Department, oversees ARFF operations at
both Kansas City International and Charles
B. Wheeler Downtown airports. He may be
reached at Matt.Mauer@kcmo.org.