In late January, 10 members of the Addison Fire Department spent two days fighting a variety of aircraft fires and rescue situations in College Station at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s Emergency Training Institute. All 53 members of the department are certified for ARFF, said Chief John O’Neal, and the live-fire training hones their life-saving skills and introduces new techniques, procedures, and equipment introduced since their initial certification training.
In-service training that addresses all fire fighting skills is part of the department’s regular routine, but Addison does not have live-fire training facilities. In the past Addison conducted its ARFF training and certification at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, said Chief O’Neal, “but their training field has been under renovation.”
ARFF crews battle flames on an unique sheet-steel airplane that has a high-wing on one side and a low-wing on the other side of a cabin of business-jet dimensions. To it instructors bolt components that make it a jet or prop-plane with different cabin configurations. Bio-diesel fuels the exterior fires of varying sizes and locations, from brakes and engines to an 8,100-square-foot blaze, said Chief O’Neal. Organic materials simulate smoky cabin fires where crews hone their ventilation skills and occupant rescues.
The second day of training focuses on employing the Oshkosh ARFF truck to control and extinguish various static and scenario burns. Another 10-person Addison crew will participate in the two-day refresher training in the next few months. Since assuming his position just shy of two years ago, Chief O’Neal said he’s emphasized hands-on performance and command and control training because it gives the department a higher “level of proficiency and better prepares us for any emergency at the airport.”