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Airports are some of the most important infrastructures in a country. It is through these facilities that passengers are able to engage in local and international travel. The safety of the airport is therefore of great importance. One of the hazards that the airport should be protected from is fire.
Fires can hinder the normal operations of the airport with major negative consequences. Most airports therefore have well equipped fire stations for use in case of an emergency. I had an internship experience at an Airport Fire Station. In this paper, I will highlight what I learnt from my internship.
Familiarization to Fire Station
The first step in my internship involved orientation with the airport fire station. My supervisor was responsible for ensuring that I was properly familiarized with the airport fire station. The airport served by the fire station is very large. It has many terminals and serves millions of passengers per year. Many planes land and take off from the airport each day. These planes range from very large to small ones. The frequency of traffic increases the chances of an accident happening.
The fire station was strategically located so that it could provide rapid response to the runways, taxiways, and even terminals. All the roads from the airport fire station had to be kept clear so that emergency vehicles could move as soon as an emergency was announced. There were frequent routine inspections of equipment in the fire station. The firefighters inspected the rigs and the fire apparatus. Routine cleaning and maintenance of equipment also occurred.
The fire station had a number of fire engine vehicles. These vehicles carry extinguishing agents that are capable of putting out the highly inflammable aviation fuel. The airport serves aircrafts of different sizes. This includes small light planes and jumbo jets carrying tones of cargo or hundreds of passengers. The fire engines used therefore have extinguishing agents that include dry chemicals used to repress large volatile fires.
In the event of a fire, a vehicle carrying water and another one carrying the dry extinguishing chemicals are used. For small aircrafts with a length of less than 27m, only 100 gallons of water and dry chemicals are needed and one vehicle can be used. For midsized planes, ranging between 27m and 38m, two vehicles are used to put out the fire. One vehicle carries the water while the other carries the dry chemical needed to produce a foam of 1,500 gallons.
Large aircraft of between 38m and 48m require three vehicles with one vehicle carrying the chemical and two carrying the water needed to produce at least 3,000 gallons of foam. For airplanes between 48m and 61m, three vehicles are used and at least 4,000 gallons of foam is required. For aircrafts longer than 61m, three vehicles are used and the minimum foam to be produced is 6,000 gallons.
Communication is of great importance in the airport fire station. Two-way radio communications are the most effective form of communication for the airport fire station. Most aircrafts and ground vehicles operating at the airport have two-way radios. The fire company maintains surveillance of the radio frequency.
The firefighters are supposed to monitor the common traffic advisory frequency. The firefighters also use this frequency to identify themselves and state their intentions when they enter into the airport facilities. In addition to this channel, there is an emergency frequency reserved for general aviation aircraft. This frequency is 121.5MHz and it is used by a pilot when he is in trouble and unsure of whom to contact. The fire station should monitor the frequency to ensure quick response in the event of an incident.
The fire station has a number of portable aircraft radios. These radios are located on the command vehicles and the fire engines. The radios are programmed with the frequencies of the airport. Through these radios, the firefighters are able to communicate with the flight control tower, the pilots, and the ground crews. A sufficient number of qualified and trained firefighting personnel are always available at the fire station. These individuals are always ready to respond to a fire in the shortest time possible.
Airport Fire Alarm
The Airport has an elaborate alarm system for use in case of an emergence. An alarm can be raised from the control tower. This fire alarm is raised when a pilot is in distress and requires to crash land. The fire station is supposed to respond immediately and move into the runway where the plane is expected. There are also numerous fire alarm switches placed at strategic places all over the airport.
When a person identifies a fire, he/she is supposed to set off the alarm to alert the other people of the fire. When the alarm is sounded, the Airport fire Station receives a message and the firefighting personnel act immediately. When the fire alarm is sounded, the fire department responds immediately. The fire chief takes over command of all the rescue operations in the airport. It is responsible for all fire fighting, search and rescue operations that are to be carried out.
The airport fire station Internship experience was very educative for me. I was familiarized with the operations of the fire station and the equipment used to deal with a fire. I also learnt how to make use of radio communication in the event of a disaster. There was no accident while at the airport during my internship. However, the fire station personnel were always prepared to handle any emergency that could occur. The high level of preparedness ensures that any accident is resolved in the shortest time and with minimum damage.