Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 ARFF Working Group Conference - In Review

I recently returned from the 2014 ARFF Working Group annual conference, which was held in Galveston, TX.  This is a "must-attend event" for anyone involved in the aircraft rescue and firefighting field.  Every session is filled with value adding information, education, and resources.  The vendors in the exhibitor showcase are all relevant to ARFF operations, and provide useful products and services.

The opening session was brought by Tony Brigmon, Ambassador of Fun, from Southwest Airlines.  He delivered an engaging and lively presentation on "fun".  He talked about how music can change the whole attitude of an event or meeting.  He provided the following guide to selecting the right audio track, for the mood you want to set:

M - Motivate - fast tempo, lots of bass, loud volume ("Eye of the Tiger") 
U - Unwind - slow tempo, more treble, soft volume (classical music)
S - Smile - songs that make you smile - country music ("Mississippi Squirrel")
I - I Love You - songs that make you feel 'frisky'
C - Communicate - the lyrics match a message you are sending to someone

Dr. Sabrina Cohen-Hatton is a fire officer and psychologist from Wales. She delivered an insightful presentation on the psychology of incident command.  In her session she defined what command truly is, and identified 6 findings from her extensive research in this field.

Representatives from the  FAA were on hand to provide information on their standards and requirements. And to provide updates that will affect ARFF operations.

Chief Duane Kann, newly appointed Chairman of the ARFF Working Group and Chief at Orlando International Airport, provided updates on the applicable NFPA standards. And he encouraged more involvement in the NFPA technical committees and code development process.

There were several case-studies/lessons learned presentations given based on current aviation related incidents.  We heard about the Challenger Accident (Aspen, CO), the crash of Asiana Flight 214 (San Francisco, CA) , and the Active Shooter incident at LAX.  Each of these department heads shared about the incident in general, but also what lessons were learned and how they could be applied to our individual operations. There were several common lessons between these events:
  1. Compliance does not equal preparedness - minimum standards may need to be exceeded in order to truly be prepared for an emergency incident.
  2. Unified command/mutual aid - this should be practiced, and every agency should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
  3. Realistic training - training should be conducted in a realistic way, in an environment that can mimic actual conditions, and it must be conducted often.
There were a few presentations on specific aircraft types, familiarization, and emergency procedures.  ARFF Training Concepts discussed airplane construction, systems, and materials, and connected these to emergency response procedures.

Representatives from the DFW Fire Research and Training Center, identified and "busted" 9 training myths, commonly heard around the fire house. 

Myth #1 -  They attended _______ training.  They know how to do that.
Myth #2 -  Everybody knows about "throttles-bottles-batteries".
Myth #3 -  Dangerous goods are always located in the most forward position.
Myth #4 -  Everybody knows the importance of early ventilation.
Myth #5 -  If we shut off the battery switch we cannot open the cargo doors.
Myth #6 -  We have plenty of air.
Myth #7 -  Engine fires can be extinguished from front, back, and access panels.
Myth #8 -  ARFF driver/operators know everything about their apparatus.
Myth #9 -  It won't happen here.

This conference was a really great event.  The education received and value added far exceeds the associated conference costs.  That makes this conference a deal!  Any departments with ARFF responsibilities should make it a point to send their personnel to this event each year.

All the presentation will be available on-line at the ARFF Working Group website,