Article Archive
Salt Lake City ARFF School Draws Responders Nationwide
Volume 23, No.2

Travelers landing at Salt Lake City International Airport can be forgiven for a moment of concern about what appears to be a DC-10 airliner burning nearby. Airport personnel quickly reassure them that it is the Salt Lake City ARFF Training School in session.

The center's DC-10 mockup simulates up to 25 different types of fire that responders trained in ARFF (aircraft rescue fire fighter) can expect to encounter, said training center manager David Steward.

The FAA requires that major airports have firefighters trained in practical standards of application such as live-fire response, rescue, aircraft familiarization, airport familiarization, cargo hazards and others, he said.

"At different size airports, firefighters are expected to practice on a fire that simulates what they may actually run up against," Steward said. "Our center is an Index E facility, meaning that training here are expected to respond and control fires involving the largest aircraft in the U.S."

Owned and operated by the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, the training center is staffed by the Salt Lake City Fire Department. Steward is a captain in that fire department, working under airport batallion chief Jeff Thomas.

Training more than 600 students annually, the Salt Lake City ARFF Training Center primarily draws from the western United States.? However, students attending from other parts of the country is not unusual.

"We have a reputation," Steward said. "I think people like to get different training from different ARFF training centers just to get something new. We stay ahead of the trends by keeping up on new techniques."

Aside from the DC-10 mockup, training equipment includes two 2005 Oshkosh 3000 Striker crash trucks. The training center also includes classroom facilities equipped with computers for interactive simulation training.

"In the classroom we go over different strategies and tactics," Steward said. "Then, on the fire ground, we'll let the students play it out."

Firefighters are not the only students who attend the training center. Flight crews from Delta and Sky Western airlines often attend in emphasis of the training center's team concept in ARFF.

"When there is an emergency, the flight crew, firefighters and air traffic controller are all part of the same team," Steward said. "The more we train on each others jobs, the more we know what to expect from each other during emergencies."

The center offers a 40-hour basic fire fighting class which is conducted over a four-day period, usually Monday through Thursday. It covers all 11 of the FAA essential topics for ARFF certification. About 20 hours of the course is classroom and 20 hours live fire training.?

Students will have the opportunity to conduct truck ops, hand line ops and incident command within three days of live fire training. Students will also have hands-on aircraft and airfield familiarization training. This will include cabin door operation, engine components, auxiliary power unit location and function, emergency fuel and electrical shut offs, aircraft fuel characteristics, and airfield marking interpretation.

The center also offers FAA 139 recertification live-burn training. Scheduling for the course is extremely flexible, Steward said.

"We give the option of students flying in one day, completing the training and flying home the same day," he said. "Some prefer to fly in the day before, do the training and then fly home. Others like to fly in and do half the training one day, stay overnight, then complete the training the next day."

The price for these courses includes protective clothing, breathing apparatus and a night at a local hotel. For student arriving at the airport, the training center provides transportation to and from the terminal to the training facility.

Instructors can manage up to 20 students at one time, Steward said. All instructors are certified by the FAA in ARFF.

"We try to give the best training that people can get for their money," Steward said.

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