The importance of Airport Rescue and Firefighting services
Airports with scheduled passenger flights are obliged to have firefighters and firefighting apparatus available when aircraft operations are taking place at the airport due to the potential of mass casualties following an emergency.
Firefighters are responsible to carry out emergency response, evacuation, and rescue of passengers and crew. Their role is crucial as wide-body jet aircraft can carry hundreds of passengers.
The Maldives Airport Rescue & Fire Fighting Service was established on 12th April 1966 as the first Fire Service provider of the country and is today the largest Aerodrome Fire Fighting Service in the country.
Under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 14, Volume 1 - Aerodrome Design and Operations, it is a mandatory requirement for a member state to provide rescue and firefighting services and equipment to airports
The number of firefighting facilities and vehicles required at the airport varies depending on the size and the category of the airport.
The ARFF provider for an airport must ensure that the necessary buildings and facilities for the service are available at the airport, this includes:
A fire station;
Facilities for the maintenance of vehicles and equipment;
If there is a body of water within 1 000 meters of a runway threshold — a boat ramp and boat launching facilities.
The ARFF provider also must ensure the listed buildings and facilities comply with any applicable requirements, there is a facility for replenishing the water supply of a fire fighting vehicle and that there are the appropriate emergency roads on the airport.
All rescue and fire fighting personnel are required to receive advanced training to perform their duties efficiently, Airport firefighters must complete the following training;
Rescue and fire fighting personnel safety;
Emergency communications systems on the aerodrome, including aircraft-related alarms;
Use of the fire hoses, nozzles, turrets, and other appliances;
Application of extinguishing agents;
Emergency aircraft evacuation assistance;
Fire fighting operations;
Adaptation and use of structural rescue and firefighting equipment for aircraft rescue and fire fighting;
Familiarisation with fire fighter’s duties under the aerodrome emergency plan;
Protective clothing and respiratory protection.
“All rescue and fire fighting personnel shall be properly trained to perform their duties in an efficient manner and shall participate in live-fire drills commensurate with the types of aircraft and type of firefighting equipment in use at their aerodrome, including pressure-fed fuel fires”. - ICAO Annex 14
In order to recognize the efforts and to honour the sacrifices of firefighters, International Firefighters’ Day is celebrated on 4th May every year.