Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (RFFS) or Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) has to be provided at all aerodromes, in accordance with ICAO Annex 14, Volume 1 – and associated guidance, such as ICAO Document 9137-AN/898, Airport Services Manual, Part 1, Rescue and Fire Fighting.
ARFF is for most aerodrome operators a complex challenge in terms of regulations, organisation, operations and equipment – as well as in financial terms: ARFF is one of the items with the highest operating cost for an airport operator.
Nevertheless – it is the aerodrome operator being responsible to provide the appropriate level of ARFF.
While no-one wants to save on safety, many aerodrome operators are not aware that ARFF costs can be reduced in several manners while meeting regulatory and operational requirements.
airsight proposes services aiming to review airports ARFF and emergency services departments, assess compliance, measure and benchmark performance, as well as to identify possible optimisation leading to a higher operational- and cost efficiency.
Dynamic allocation of resources to the traffic - Is your current category permanently really required?
ARFF operations should be adapted to the predicted traffic volumes and aircraft fleet, while following regulatory requirements.
In short, the core question is “what do we need, where, and when?”.
While this sounds simple, this ARFF task allocation is a complex problem that requires a pro-active analytical approach to fully unveil possible benefits.
Many airport operators or ARFF service providers are not fully using potential of optimisation available, such as low periods of traffic or changes in terms of aircraft fleets (e.g. A380 retirement) represents an opportunity.
From a pure financial perspective – why would you provide an extremely costly Category 10 24 hours when the traffic requires only Category 7 for 22 hours?
airsight has a unique expertise in such quantitative optimisation problem, as well as custom mathematical models and tools for both the analysis of future traffic as for the assessment of required ARFF resources.
Refuelling with passengers on-board and RFF precense required – who pays?
To optimise turn-around times, many aircraft operators orders a refuelling with passenger on-board. At most aerodromes, such practice requires the availability of a dedicated RFF vehicle.
One may question who shall pay for this ‘extra service’? The entity ordering such extra, i.e. the aircraft operator – or the airport operator, as responsible for the safety of airport operations?
Also, one may question if this procedure may be optimised: can a single RFF vehicle be ready to intervene not on a single aircraft, but possibly two or more adjacent aircraft? What procedures can be implemented to allow fuelling and boarding without RFF vehicle being present . These questions, which can be answered using a risk-based approach, has been asked often by airport operators to airsight in the last few months – with a view to optimise operations.
What do airport firefighters do all day? How to make efficient use of ARFF personnel
ARFF primary duty is naturally to ensure that everything is prepared for an intervention, i.e. staff, equipment, etc.
Nevertheless, depending on the conditions, ARFF personnel may have extra capacity that can be used for non-ARFF duty. Some airport operators use ARFF personnel for airport operations (security, maintenance activity, winter operations, etc.).
Organisational and responsibilities – How to partially re-allocate resources and recover costs?
While the provision of ARFF is the responsibility of the aerodrome operator, there exists manyfold organisational structures and cost recovery schemes.
While some airport operators outsource ARFF services to private, other provides this service internally, or rely on state’s resources.
At some airports the ARFF resources are shared with the neighbouring districts, to optimise costs. Some airport operators retrieve costs not only from aircraft operator’s landing fees, but from all airport users which may benefit their services (e.g. cargo warehouse, etc.).
Did you know for instance that some airports re-allocate dynamically some of their ARFF resources with neighbouring municipalities?
The flexible allocation of resources can generate synergies and save costs.
Infrastructure and Equipment – How can equipment costs be reduced?
ARFF equipment – notably vehicle and their maintenance – represents a very high investment.
Just as exemplary figure: the difference in terms of average annual maintenance cost between a 4 and 3 axle vehicle is about 15 000 EUR.
For this reason, a special attention on the operational requirements (vehicle speed, water-carrying capacity, off-road performance and agent discharge rates, etc.) and their utilisation may enable significant cost savings.
Also, in combination with other equipment, the adequate selection of extinguishing agents and associated performance class, can also lead to non-negligible costs optimisation.
Regulations – What is really required to be compliant?
First, ARFF regulations requires a pro-active approach to consider both the national and international context. Aerodrome operators and ARFF service providers should review and monitor not only to ensure compliance, but also to plan additional cost or requirements induced by new regulations – and to identify possible optimisation potential.
In Europe, EASA recent new regulations include many new aspects operators shall consider, e.g. physical fitness requirements, training, etc.
As ARFF is a very complex subject, more and more CAAs, aerodromes operators and ARFF service providers turns to airsight to conduct independent compliance audits or critical review of their operations.
airsight performs such gap-analysis, inspection services and audits on-site or off-site, on a worldwide basis.
As suggested in the previous section, the approach chosen by airsight is not to only focus on compliance, but to unveil unexpected optimisation potential and save costs!
Training and Qualifications
This last decade, many new possibilities have emerged for the training of ARFF personnel, including eLearning modules, as well as mobile training station.
airsight provides on-demand custom training and workshops for airport and ARFF management: contact our training department for quote!
Feel free to contact our Airport Operations department to optimise your ARFF operations!