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The ACCA Fire/Rescue Department

Posted: 30 September 2008 | Timothy P. Holmes, Deputy Fire Chief, Allegheny County Airport Authority Fire / Rescue | No comments yet

Pittsburgh International Airport’s 10,000 acre facility is protected by the Allegheny County Airport Authority Fire / Rescue Department, which currently operates with 50 personnel, one administrative assistant and 19 pieces of apparatus. The airport facility includes approximately 200 structures, two military installations and approximately 10 miles of a four lane divided highway. The Allegheny County Airport Authority (ACAA) Fire / Rescue Department is responsible for all aircraft emergencies, structural fire response for all constructions on airport property, Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and Hazardous Materials / Weapons of Mass Destruction (HazMat / WMD) incidents. ACAA is also responsible for any other fire or rescue situation including mutual aid.

Pittsburgh International Airport’s 10,000 acre facility is protected by the Allegheny County Airport Authority Fire / Rescue Department, which currently operates with 50 personnel, one administrative assistant and 19 pieces of apparatus. The airport facility includes approximately 200 structures, two military installations and approximately 10 miles of a four lane divided highway. The Allegheny County Airport Authority (ACAA) Fire / Rescue Department is responsible for all aircraft emergencies, structural fire response for all constructions on airport property, Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and Hazardous Materials / Weapons of Mass Destruction (HazMat / WMD) incidents. ACAA is also responsible for any other fire or rescue situation including mutual aid.

Pittsburgh International Airport is home to one of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regional ARFF Training Facilities, which is operated by the ACAA Fire/Rescue Department personnel.

Personnel

The ACAA Fire / Rescue Department’s 50 personnel are led by its three chief officers; Fire Chief Richard Wilson, Deputy Fire Chief Brian Colella and Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holmes. The rest of the department is comprised of six Lieutenants and 41 Firefighters. The Lieutenants and Firefighters are members of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 1038.

Apparatus

The ACAA Fire / Rescue Department currently operate 19 apparatus that includes:

  • 5 ARFF vehicles
  • 1 Rapid Intervention Vehicle
  • 1 Engine
  • 1 Ladder
  • 1 Heavy Rescue
  • 1 Water Tender
  • 1 Foam Pumper
  • 1 Mass Casualty Support Unit
  • 3 Command Vehicles assigned to the Chiefs
  • 1 utility vehicle

A reserve ARFF vehicle and engine are assigned to the Fire Training Facility for use by both the instructional staff and visiting students. A minimum daily staffing of eight personnel ensures quick deployment of over 7,000 gallons of water/foam agent.

All ARFF apparatus were manufactured by Oshkosh, with the exception of the RIV, which was produced by Danko. The Oshkosh Crash trucks range from a 1,000 to 3,000 gallon capacity, two of which are equipped with Snozzle firefighting booms. The RIV is a Danko body, mounted on a Ford F550 chassis. It is equipped with a bumper mounted turret and is small enough to access tight spaces.

The structural apparatus were all manufactured by Pierce Manufacturing, with the exception of the tender. The engine is a Pierce Dash four person cab, with a 2,000 gallon per minute pump and seven pre-connected discharges. The ladder is also a Pierce Dash, with a four person cab and is equipped with a 2,000 gallon per minute pump. The aerial ladder is 100 feet long and equipped with a four person platform that has twin deluge guns, which are capable of flowing in excess of 2,000 gallons per minute.

The heavy rescue is another Pierce Dash with a modified four person cab. The rear of the cab has only one command seat, so that, the vehicle can double as a command post. The body of the rescue truck is set up for maximum storage space for vehicle and other specialised rescue operations. The tender is a tractor drawn (5,000 gallon water/ 1,000 gallon foam) Peterbilt, that was custom built by New Lexington Fire Apparatus. It is also equipped with a 2,000 gallon per minute pump and three pre-connected hose lines where the sleeper cab would be mounted on a typical tractor. The foam pumper is a two person commercial cab Pierce and is equipped with 1,000 gallons of foam.

Responses

The ACCA Fire / Rescue Department responded to over 1,300 emergencies in 2007. Over 60% of those responses were EMS calls. Fire responses ranged from all types of aircraft emergencies, structural fires and alarms, vehicle fires, and fires in the numerous undeveloped wooded areas, on airport property. Rescue emergencies included vehicle extrication, high and low angle rope rescues and confined space rescues. The ACAA Fire / Rescue Department also provided mutual aid support to surrounding communities and has traveled up to 40 miles to provide specialized support to four counties.

Other responsibilities

The ACAA Fire / Rescue Department also handle a variety of inspections and details for the airport community. Crews conduct hot work inspections anytime there are welding or burning operations going on at the airport. Confine spaces are inspected and air quality is monitored before any entry can by made. Fire suppression systems and fire extinguishers are also inspected on a regular basis, along with, the 30 Automated External Defibrillators (AED) mounted throughout the terminals. Crews also conduct fire drills, CPR classes and fire extinguisher training for the tenants of the various airport facilities, as well as numerous tenant inspections.

Fire / Rescue personnel can be called upon at any time to assist in any other operation at the airport, where manpower or equipment is needed.

FAA Regional ARFF Training Facility

In 1999, Pittsburgh International Airport opened the doors of its new USD 12 million Federal Aviation Administration Regional Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Training Facility. This is one of only 12 of such facilities in the nation and Pittsburgh (PIT) has trained more than 1,000 emergency responders (from across the United States and several countries) a year since opening.

The facility features a 12,280 square foot fuel spill burn area, with a steel mock-up of an aircraft fuselage, in the center of the burn area. The aircraft mock-up features a tail engine, under-wing engine and a wheel / brake assembly, all of which can be ignited. Inside, (accessible by an L1 main cabin door and an over wing hatch) there are capabilities for a cockpit fire, galley fire, passenger compartment fire with a rollover simulator and a lavatory / trash receptacle fire. All fires are propane fed and the water used in firefighting efforts is collected via a grid system under the fuel spill burn area and reused during subsequent fire scenarios. A C-130 fuselage is on site and serves as a smoke maze.

A four story tower adjacent to the aircraft simulator houses a computer control center. The control center coordinates and ignites all fires to ensure consistent and repeatable evolutions for each trainee. The control center can also abort any scenario at any time, providing trainees and instructors with the safest training possible.

Attached to the tower is a one story building that has administrative offices, male and female locker rooms with shower facilities, class rooms, equipment storage and maintenance areas and a truck bay.

The facility is also used for recurrent training (as outlined in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAA), Part 139) of ACAA employees, fire extinguisher training and CPR training.

The facility is staffed by ACAA Fire/Rescue Department personnel, who work as instructors in addition to their normal work shifts. These instructors (who have used their own time to become Certified Fire Service Instructors) have continually sought out new and innovative firefighting tactics and techniques. They then pass that information on to the students through updated and creative presentations and scenarios. Maintenance of the facility is provided by the various trades employed by the Airport Authority.

In 2000, the PIT ARFF Training Facility started hosting Basic and Advanced ARFF schools, presented by the Northeast Chapter of The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). During these week long classes, students are provided with the most current ARFF techniques and are able to hone their expertise with hands on live fire training. Students enrolled in the basic class are provided with the skills and knowledge needed by a firefighter who is new to ARFF. The advanced class is geared toward experienced ARFF personnel and concentrates on larger, more complex incidents and incident command. Overall, the instructors dedicate many hours to the development of improved courses and coordinate for any special equipment that they may need.

In April, the PIT ARFF Training Facility hosted the first AAAE school which was well attended. On 22 September 2008, the instructors successfully hosted the second AAAE school, with new programs and formats. Thanks to the dedication, determination and support of the ACAA staff, it was a huge success.

The facility is fully operational and all of the pieces are in place to have another successful training session.

Conclusion

With hard work, dedication and professionalism, the men and women of the ACAA Fire / Rescue Department stand ready to provide state-of-the-art fire and rescue services to the tenants of the Pittsburgh International Airport and to the traveling public.

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