Things are heating up … ARFF live fire burns at RIC

Things are heating up at RIC.  Live fire burn training for Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting personnel is a F.A.A. requirement under the Code of Regulations 14 CFR Part 139 (Airport Certification).  Part 139 requires all rescue and firefighting personnel to participate in at least one live-fire drill every 12 consecutive months.  The Virginia Department of Fire Programs facilitates this training for airport fire departments (ARFF) around the state.  RIC is often used as a base of operations for this unique training opportunity.

VDFP uses an aircraft mock-up trainer, and propane fueled burn mat to simulate the conditions of a live fire.  The trainer and mat are mobile and can be transported to airports all around the state.   The smoke and fire are controlled by VDFP personnel using a computer in the state-of-the-art control center.   The trainer even has “dummies” that may be used to simulate extracting  passengers from the aircraft.

For airport fire fighters the opportunity to train in this environment gives them a true sense of what responding to an actual aircraft emergency may be like.  Training under these controlled conditions affords ARFF personnel the chance to attack a live fire under the watchful eye of supervisors, instructors, and more experienced fire fighters.  And for seasoned ARFF first-responders it’s beneficial for them to refresh their skills and utilize all those years of experience.

The RIC Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting team respond to a simulated aircraft emergency.

Retired RIC Airport Operations Manager and Fire Chief Jim Nilo has assisted the Virginia Department of Fire Programs for many years.  Nilo has travelled around the state for many years helping to set up the trainer, control the simulated burns, and offer his expertise in ARFF training.  He says, “Constant training is needed to establish and maintain proficiency so when seconds count, first responders are ready to answer the call.”

A familiar face at RIC, Jim Nilo works with the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, assisting airport fire fighters around the state by simulating live-fire burns to test their skills.