Highlands and Islands Airports own and operate 11 airports within Scotland. The diverse nature of each airport’s operation presents unique challenges to the Chief Fire Officer and his team to ensure compliance with legislation and regulation. The principle objectives of HIA Fire Serviceare to save lives in the event of an aircraft accident or incident and to reduce damage to property and the environment. The diverse nature of the operation requires unique solutions to the many challenges it presents and this is achieved through partnership with the various departments and external organisations.
The Airport Fire Service has become more business focused over recent years and is committed to exploring initiatives which can offer a service, but also generate income to the business such as Flight Crew Training, Fire Warden and Fire Extinguisher training. A host of other extraneous tasks is also undertaken by the Airport Fire Service across the different locations from Bird Hazard Control to passenger lift on/offs.
The Chief Fire Officer is based at Inverness Head Office and is responsible for developing and reviewing Policy and Procedures in partnership with the airport fire managers. The Airport Fire management team comprise of team members from all of the 11 airports from the Group.
The provision of rescue and firefighting services requires competent staff and HIA has fully embraced the concept of competence-based training. On recruitment, all Fire-fighters attend an Approved Training Provider for acquisition training, and on their return to their airport, they embark on a development programme designed to develop their knowledge and skills culminating in assessment of each role they will undertake. Only on completion of the development programme will the Fire-fighter be deemed competent and enter the HIA Maintenance of Competence Scheme. The Maintenance of Competence scheme is designed to follow a structured programme of maintaining knowledge and skills and formal assessments. Upon promotion, the individual will attend an Approved Training Provider (ATP) to achieve competence in acquisition, before returning to the airport and entering a development programme to achieve the required standard of knowledge and skill to work efficiently and safely as a team member.
HIA have now taken delivery of 15 new fire appliances as part of a 21 vehicle fire appliance replacement project which will include 2 specialist appliances for Barra Airport’s beach operation. In addition HIA have 7 water rescue locations which includes shore based water rescue capability, one location with a specialist mud rescue team, 5 rescue craft and a jet ski.
Each airport (with the exception of Barra) is provided with a fire simulator. These have been supplied by either Simulations or Kidde Fire. The simulators are integral to the maintenance of skills for our Firefighters and ensure that various scenarios can be practiced and debriefed regularly.
HIA has close links with all of the external emergency services and agencies encompassed by the emergency plans. All HIA airports have emergency orders for internal services, and Major Incident Response Plans agreed with each external responding agency. HIA participates in Emergency Planning in three Scottish regions, which requires effective communication and co-ordination, which is achieved through the Chief Fire Officer.