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The article reviews the need of modern airport's ARFF departments to conform to certain standards and regulation of operation. It gives a number of examples of the hazards that they face. The hazards when they occur have the potential of causing harm to users of the airports and the rescue workers themselves. The change in policy in a number of areas, for example, the military aircrafts can be launched fully loaded with munitions contrasted with there before necessitated by the war on terrorism presenting a formidable hazard. Because of the high number of formidable hazards facing the airport users, the ARFF departments need to be ready through various mechanisms such as putting in place emergency response plans.

The Federal Aviation has attempted to regulate the aircraft rescue and fire fighting operations at the airports. In 2004, it issued reforms to the title 14 of the code of Federal Regulation, Part 139. The FAA reforms were aimed at streamlining the ARFF sector in the airports. Through the facility, it issued a number of rules and regulations to conform to for airports to receive a part 139 certification. The FAA can, however, issue exemptions of conformity to the ARFF regulations depending on a number of variables.

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The Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) has rules and regulations in an attempt to streamline the operation and management of ARFF stations. It recommends the communication style during operations, the disaster plans, equipment use and maintenance, ARFF personnel and the optimal operation routes and time. The NFPA also makes a number of recommendations for managing and operation of the ARFF stations. It recommends the location, personnel required, optimal operation times and routes for ARFF vehicles, communication style, fire fighter's protective clothing and the effective planning for emergencies.

Because of the importance of the ARFF department in the airports, reforms are necessary to reduce the number of casualties and damage to property. I agree with the rules and regulations in place to streamline the operations of the ARFF stations. The rules and regulations regard to location of the stations, access to the stations, equipment availability and maintenance, optimal number of personnel and qualifications and the optimal response times and routes during emergencies. However, further reforms are mandatory to improve the operation of the ARFF stations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued reforms to the Federal airport certification regulation in 2204. The regulations affected title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 139 (14 CFR Part 139). The rules have different effects depending on the class of the airport. One of the areas updated by the rules is the guidelines governing the provision of aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF). The FAA requires conformity with certain rules and regulations of airports to the ARFF for them to receive a part 139 certification (Young, 2011). However, the rules are not conclusive, so the FAA is working with other stakeholders such as the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to further review the area.

According to the 14 CFR 139, every airport must have an ARFF station and its supporting equipments. The code requires setting up of primary ARFF station and substations as in the case of large airports. In scenarios where there are many stations, the main station should be located straddling the landside and airside boundary. This positioning is recommended so as to allow public access to the station, allow access of mutual aid responders and allow easy access of the fire fighters to the landside. The public access, however, should be limited to the primary ARFF station and not the substations in the case of many ARFF stations.

Another consideration is the response time and route during emergencies. The ARFF stations must be optimally positioned to minimize the response times by establishing the most viable routes. The 14 CFR 139 requires that the stations are located such that the fire fighting vehicles have easy access to the landside in response to any incidents occurring.  It also recommends that the administrative offices of the facility be accessible by the public. This will make it easier for anyone to receive help from the ARFF officers (Young, 2011).

The ARFF station should be accessible without any access control. However, some areas of the station should be access controlled to prevent unauthorized entry to the airside. One such group that requires entry into the station is airport tenant employees who require training on safety procedures in the course of their duties. Other staffs of the airport also require entry into the station to facilitate design direction and their resulting operations.

The ARFF stations and equipments should conform to a certain standard so as to best serve its purpose. The vehicles used in the fire fighting should be well maintained to ensure capacity of the station to contain any incidents. The station should have reserve ARFF vehicles to substitute a primary ARFF vehicle that has broken down. The vehicles should also be constructed, equipped and tested annually according to the FAR part 139. Specification for arrival times at the scene of the incident is that the first vehicle to respond should be at the midpoint within 3 minutes. While the farthest runway with the others arriving 4 minutes after the alarm issue.  To best serve its purpose, the ARFF stations and equipments should conform to a certain standard. The NFPA 403 requires three personnel to operate ARFF equipment during an operation. Any additional staff should be based to perform the tasks. The NFPA requires that the fire fighters are trained satisfactorily to contain any incidents. It further recommends Potassium bicarbonate dry chemical as a suitable suppression agent of the fires (Barr, 2003).

A number of other recommendations are made regarding the protective clothing for the fire fighters, operations, communication during emergencies and planning for disasters. FAR part 139 requires that every fire fighter is accorded with proper protective clothing. It further requires that the station be operational during aircraft operations. During emergencies, the ARFF vehicles should possess a two-way communication. Finally, the FAR part 139 recommends each ARFF station to prepare a disaster plan to contain any incidents occurring at the airport (Barr, 2003).

The operation and management of the ARFF stations needs to be efficient because of the formidable hazards present. The hazards include the easily combustible metals, oxygen vessels, batteries, composite materials and military munitions (Hazel, 2011). The stations need to prepare emergency response plans to be able to deal with these hazards. These plans will identify and manage the hazards.  ARFF stations face common and unique hazards. The common forms of hazards are wheel fires and auxiliary power unit fires while examples of unique hazards are environmental contamination and structural fires. The ARFF departments need to devise all the necessary improvements to best achieve its goals and objectives. 

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