East Midlands Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Service
1st February 2022
From its base adjacent to the airport's 2,893-metres-long runway and 350,000 square metres of taxiways and aprons, East Midlands Airport's Rescue and Fire Fighting Service is tasked with providing a response to any airside incident within two minutes, and not exceeding three in optimum conditions. With up to 270 aircraft movements taking place within a 24-hour period, that is a challenging target by any measure. The man charged with ensuring this operational capability is adhered to at all times is the Airport's Head of Fire and Airfield operations, Simon Hinchley.
Simon and the airport's Fire Service Manager, Lee Toulson, oversee a team of 44 fire fighters. Split into four watches – Red, White, Green and Blue – the teams provide a wide-ranging response service which includes aircraft emergencies, fuel spillages and other ground incidents, plus refuelling standbys, fire alarms and first aid calls. It's a demanding brief calling for the utmost care and attention to every detail.
"Our crews are highly trained professionals," says Simon Hinchley. "Every new recruit attends the International Fire Training Centre for a six-week basic skills training course, after which we provide ongoing training, including first aid, at the airport fire station. Our aim is to cover the broadest possible number of potential scenarios our firefighters might encounter at the airport."
Being trained in every aspect of the job includes gaining a detailed knowledge of the airport's fire fighting tenders, which today comprise a fleet of four recently commissioned Scania Chassis and Angloco bodied airport rescue and fire fighting appliances.
"The move to Scania was a bit of a no-brainer in all honesty," comments Simon Hinchley. "Everyone involved in fire and rescue services knows that Scania chassis are thoroughly proven in daily service, not just in the UK but also around the world. They've got a great pedigree and a long and distinguished history within the fire fighting industry. In addition to Scania's reputation as a manufacturer of premium quality, highly reliable products, its crew cab is another huge plus point for us."
Specifically built-for-purpose, the Scania all-steel safety crew cab is made possible by Scania's modular build system. This unique concept enables key components such as door and body panels to be mixed and matched to produce a vehicle that is ideally suited to multi-person-crewed operations. In the case of fire and rescue services, this typically calls for two rows of seats plus space for specialised equipment such as breathing apparatus to be incorporated into a bespoke cab, which is entirely designed and built by Scania.
"Our crew cabs are built to seat four personnel – the driver, the officer in charge and two fire fighters," says Simon Hinchley. "In addition to providing safe and secure accommodation, the cab is designed to be used just like a regular truck, so the entranceway at each of its four doors has three identically positioned steps. That is an important safety consideration in an emergency situation where firefighters may need to rapidly access or exit the cab.
"The appliances are all fitted with a 500 horsepower Scania engine, which provides all the power we need. Drive is by way of Allison automatic gearboxes which deliver the power in a smooth and controlled fashion as the vehicle accelerates, which is another key safety factor. The 6x6 chassis are all-wheel-drive with high floatation tyres fitted. This offers us the ability to take the shortest possible route to any incident, which as you can imagine at an airport could well include traveling off-road over grass."
In terms of their fire fighting capabilities, all four vehicles are equipped with a roof-mounted fire monitor. Water from the vehicles' 8,500-litre tank is mixed with either a foam-producing agent or, in the event of an engine fire, dry powder to provide the correct type of media for the emergency in hand. This media is delivered via the roof-mounted monitor by the vehicle's onboard pump, which operates at rates of up to 4,500-litres per minute.
In addition, two of the vehicles have a bumper-mounted monitor which oscillates in order to spray a blanket of foam ahead of the appliance, thus allowing it to 'pump and roll' so it can be driven closer to the source of the fire. The bumpers of the other two appliances are equipped with winches to cover any recovery work that may be required.
Each vehicle's bodywork also includes a number of lockers containing a variety of fire fighting kit, including rescue gear, fire fighting hoses and branches, environmental protection material, shovels and other tools, and first-responder equipment such as defibrillators.
In common with many fire and rescue services acquisitions, East Midlands Airport's fire tenders have been supplied with the body builder, in this case Angloco, as the prime contractor.
The vehicles have an expected in-service life of 15 years and are being supported by Angloco's Gold Service package. As part and parcel of this service, all maintenance of the chassis and running gear is to be provided by Scania. "We're extremely well-positioned with three branches of our local Scania dealer, Keltruck, nearby – namely, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester," says Simon Hinchley. "Having rapid access to dealer service is essential for us, and it's clear that Keltruck, who maintain our vehicles on-site, are prepared to go the extra mile for us.
"I have to say that the introduction into service of these four fire fighting appliances represents a major step forward for us. We now have a fleet of state-of-the-art vehicles which have been designed to meet the rigorous demands of an airport operator. In this line of business, seconds saved can mean the difference between a successful fire fighting operation and a tragedy. So we are delighted to be able to tell the traveling public that East Midlands Airport has a second-to-none fire-fighting capability designed not only to meet our present-day needs but also those of way into the future."