Members of the AIRPORT FIRE Officers Association (AFOA) were welcomed to the organisation’s recent mini-conference held at Emergency One headquarters in Cumnock, Ayrshire by the AFOA’s Chief Executive last, Mike Madsen, and director Steven Bell, alongside AFOA President, Simon Petts.
A morning of technical sessions was kicked off by Guy Barker, the recently appointed aviation contracts manager at the International Fire Training Center (IFTC) in Darlington (which hosted the last AFOA mini-conference). In light of development plans at Darlington Airport, Barker reiterated IFTC’s and Serco’s continued commitment to on-site training and described its strong backlog of training focused on UK firefighters and international.
Simon Petts updated delegates on the good news that the Fire Service Long Term and Good Conduct Award has now been extended to cover all airport fire services (a change which has now received the royal assent). Airport firefighters can now receive the 20-year service medal and the 30- and 40-year clasps. Military service may be included in qualifying time, while breaks in service are allowed. All airport fire departments should have received letters about this.
Delegates were reminded that the award recognizes both long service and good conduct, and that long service does not necessarily justify the award.
Impact of the pandemic
Neil Gray, Senior Aerodrome Inspector at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), gave a comprehensive update. He began by reviewing the impact of the pandemic on theft numbers and incidents. Generally speaking, smaller airports (and domestic flights) were much less affected than larger airports and international flights. A full recovery in the number of UK flights is expected in 2022.
Despite the many challenges currently facing the industry – including the search for greater sustainability, the impact of the Ukrainian crisis, rising fuel costs and shrinking disposable incomes, the Transport Association international airline is still forecasting a 44% growth in the number of flights. above pre-pandemic levels.
The industry has been hit hard by the pandemic with ongoing issues including difficulties with recruiting and retaining required personnel, “skills degradation” during the pandemic, expiring certificates, changes in regulations, removal of easements, travel disruptions and disruptive passengers.
Gray also highlighted several key risk areas for the aviation industry: air conflict, aircraft environment, ground safety, collisions with terrain, runway incursions and runway excursions. It explored in detail runway incursions, runway excursions and ground safety hazards as the main areas of focus for aerodrome risk analysis.
Delegates were reminded that although the general implementation of rescue and fire service easements ceased at the end of March, individual requests can be reviewed with supporting rationale until 30 September , date on which they will end completely.
Gray concluded his address by reminding conference delegates of the 50e Birthday this year. He also shared excerpts from the original CAP 168 document from 1972 covering aerodrome licensing.
Dr Thomas Budd, senior lecturer in airport planning and management at Cranfield University, described the university’s recent research into training rescue and firefighting services for newly fueled aircraft at the and presented its new VR tool for safe and immersive hydrogen fire training.
Budd was joined by Jim Nixon, senior lecturer in human factors at Cranfield University. Among some of the key differences they highlighted from existing kerosene-powered aircraft were the likely variation in technologies, including fuel cells and hydrogen engines and the fact that fuel will be stored in the fuselage. rather than in the wings.
Unlike coal fires, hydrogen fires do not emit smoke, have no visible flame, or give off heat, so it is possible to stand very close to them without “smelling” them. Sensory experiences will be very different for hydrogen fires.
The new training tools can be used on PCs, laptops and smart phones and can be downloaded for free from the Cranfield University website. The university is also developing training in VR headsets.
In the afternoon, Emergency One’s Mike Madsen and Steven Bell welcomed delegates for a comprehensive tour of their factory, including the production lines where the company builds more than 240 firefighting vehicles each year. . There were also live demonstrations of Clan Tools and Plant Ltd ranges of equipment including Lukas e-draulic, battery powered cutting tools, Akron Brass nozzles, Vetter lift bags, anti-draught foams ecological fluorine-free BioEx and Leader nozzles, cameras, monitors and fans.
The Emergency One line of vehicles includes light, medium and supertenders, aerial and turntable ladders, command and control vehicles and a variety of special purpose vehicles, many of which could be seen in production.
Delegates also had exclusive access to the E1 EV0 electric vehicle under construction as well as a preview of a new range of vehicles set to be launched to the public at Interschutz 2022.
Delegates were treated to a networking dinner and an evening quiz, capping off a very successful event.
AFOA’s next event is the organization’s Annual General Meeting to be held at the Emergency Services Show, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham on September 21-22, 2022. AFOA is currently investigating the possibility to hold its next large-scale conference at Gatwick in October. This year.
*Further information is available online at www.afoa.org.uk