Staffing for ARFF Departments

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For those departments having airport rescue firefighting NFPA 1710 references NFPA 403, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services at Airports for minimum staffing requirements.

ARFF operations should be minimally staffed according to the index rating of the airport, as shown in these tables from NFPA 403.

Staffing above these minimums should be determined by the performance of a task analysis.  The task resource analysis is conducted in six stages and based on the needs and demands of the airport. The task and resource analysis model is outlined in Annex D of NFPA 403.

Stage 1: State the goals and objectives of ARFF services and tasks.

Stage 2: Identify potential incidents. These should be worst-case scenario based on event history, fire data, and facility statistics, and a risk assessment.

Stage 3: Identify types of aircraft most commonly used at the airport.

Stage 4: Identify worst-case scenario incident locations or possible areas of incident occurrence.

Stage 5: Combine Stages 2, 3, and 4 - correlate accident types with possible worst-case scenario locations.

Stage 6: Based on the scenario in Stage 5, conduct a task and resource analysis to determine minimum ARFF personnel. This analysis should be conducted as a table-top exercise in real time and in sequential order. Elements should include:
  1. Receive call, dispatch ARFF units.
  2. Respond to scene, operate ARFF vehicle.
  3. Apply extinguishing agents and deploy equipment.
  4. Assist passenger and crew evacuation.
  5. Access aircraft for firefighting, rescue, and other operations.
  6. Support and sustain continuing firefighting and rescue operations.
  7. Support and sustain water supply.
  8. Replenish foam supplies.

NFPA 1710 further requires that aircraft incidents have a dedicated incident commander.  Any airport fire department with structural fire protection requirements should meet the staffing requirements of NFPA 1710, section 5.2.2.