Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARFF)

Housed at the San Antonio International Airport, this Special Operations team specializes in aircraft crash fire suppression and passenger rescue. They are also the EMS first responder for the airport.

All ARFF personnel are certified as both Basic Structural Firefighters and Basic Aircraft Rescue Firefighters by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. This initial training includes over 1,200 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Some of the topics required by the U. S. Federal Aviation Administration include:

  • Airport and aircraft familiarization.
  • Aircraft cargo hazards.
  • Emergency aircraft evacuation assistance.
  • Application of different extinguishing agents.
  • Adapting structural rescue and firefighting equipment to aircraft incidents.
  • Rescue and firefighting personnel safety.

To maintain their certifications, each team member must complete continuing education activities during the year, including at least one live fire drill.

The ARFF provides a number of services to the airport community in addition to responding to aircraft emergencies, including:

  • Quarterly inspections of all fuel storage facilities and fueling vehicles.
  • Annual training for all fuel-handlers.
  • Responding to all medical emergencies on airport property.
  • Acting as first responders to all structural emergencies on airport property.

The team’s rescue vehicles are crucial pieces of equipment that are used not only to extinguish a fire, but to establish a safe escape path. These vehicles are equipped with different extinguishing agents such as: Aqueous Film Forming Foam, Halon, Halotron, and Purple K Dry chemical. These different agents allow ARFF personnel to respond to various types of aircraft and fuel fires.

Other Special Operations Teams

ARFF Quick Facts
  • Airport and aircraft familiarization.
  • Aircraft cargo hazards.
  • Emergency aircraft evacuation assistance.
  • Application of different extinguishing agents.
  • Adapting structural rescue and firefighting equipment to aircraft incidents.
  • Rescue and firefighting personnel safety.