Airport firefighters in many countries are specially trained in hot fire emergency response in which increasingly sophisticated specialist training rigs are used. The sight to be seen at the training facility of Munich Airport’s fire department is like one out of a disaster movie. The burned-out part of a car, discarded by a pile of rusted shipping containers. And a huge replica of a jumbo jet fuselage, rust-brown from being the subject of a large number of emergency practices.
Not far from the south runway of the airport. The fenced-in site of the training facility is home to airport fire crews conducting regular drills and simulations. Helping firefighters to practice firefighting in buildings and rescues from great heights. In order to prepare for response in realistic conditions. a wide range of sophisticated technology is utilized in order to make the drills as accurate as possible.
Quick response is an absolute priority, and also the fireteam – consisting of up to 160 firefighters and 32 vehicles. Are available for deployment in case of emergency and are ready to respond around the clock. The practice sessions that occur at the coaching facility enable the fire crews to keep up their operational readiness. Honing their skills in order to be able to undertake a well-rehearsed and played-to-perfection response when acting in a real emergency.
Airport FireFighters Traning
Standard training involves triggering multiple fires at various locations throughout aircraft, with pre-installed piping delivering natural gas that’s remotely ignited. Trainees receive the starting signal and, from that moment on, each second counts. The time is crucial and can’t be wasted, in order to make sure that all passengers are rescued from the fully-loaded aircraft. The firefighters must initial attempt to stop the engine fire from spreading to the cabin, otherwise running the risk of the fuel tanks exploding. Emergency response vehicles rush to the scene, taking a position at a safe distance from the aircraft. Hoses are unwound and prepared as fast as possible, and also the firefighters begin their assault on the fire.
In another simulation, the aircraft is seen to be fully engulfed in flames and also the left-wing has already lost the battle. This type of emergency can result in multiple injuries and holds a hefty risk of high mortality rates. Emergency vehicles rush to the scene. While the driving force focuses on getting as quickly as possible to the emergency site. A colleague begins positioning the water jet nozzles to aim directly at the fire source before the vehicle comes to a halt.
The airport is home to one of the most advanced fire engines within the world – the 1,000 horsepower Ziegler Z8 Snozzle. Equipped with seven protective nozzles that are able to shoot water in order to fend off flames. And a roof-mounted water turret – able to project 4,500 liters of water per minute. The vehicle uses a 480 horsepower pump engine to propel the 12,500 liters of water carried in its tanks.
A brand-new tunnel, located in the South fire station training center, allows for firefighters to train in their emergency outfit and breathing masks. Firefighters work their way in groups through cage-like corridors, past obstacles, and up narrow ladders. The exercise is meant to test the fitness and lung function of the firefighters under as realistic conditions as possible.
What does it take to join the airport firefighters team?
International airport Review’s Junior Editor, Leah Hockley, spoke with Munich Airport’s Main fire chief, Lars Boehlkau. About his role at the airport and what life is like for airport firefighters.
How long have you been working for Munich Airport’s Fire Department? Can you give us an insight into your day-to-day role?
I have been with the airport fire department since 2002. The fire department operates 24 hours a day; our shift starts at 07:15 and we work for 8.2 hours – during this time, every firefighter works in his special field, solely interrupted by possible alarms.
My subject fields are public relations, internal and external education, and training. We are required to complete one hour of official sports training every shift. once the 8.2 working hours. We have 16 hours on-call emergency service, directly at the fire department office. The shift ends the next day at 07:15, and we then have 24 hours off.
How varied are the emergencies that the FireFighters respond to at the airport?
Operations couldn’t vary more – from a small oil slick or an animal rescue to life-saving operations or serious traffic accidents.
How does one prepare for the unknown?
No operation or action is alike – experience comes with the working years and, of course, the constant practice and training of different situations help a lot.
What equipment do you use for training?
For the training we use our regular equipment, that’s prepared for use again after the exercise.
What do you find most rewarding about the job?
It is a very varied job and what enriches me the most is the gratitude of those who we’ve helped.
On the subject of the training exercises undertaken by firefighters, Boehlkau said: “Our training facility provides us with the perfect set-up to practice rescue missions under highly realistic conditions. That ensures that we are prepared at all times – although we very much hope that we will never experience a real emergency. However, we’re prepared 24/7, 365 days per annum.”