Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Services

Table of Contents


Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Services (ARFF) typically refers to the firefighting services ensured at airports, including the appropriate emergency response, evacuation, and rescue of passengers and aircraft crew engaged in aviation accidents. Aerodromes with regular passenger flights are obliged to have special firefighting apparatus and firefighters prepared to fulfill their duty at any time of the aircraft flight. ARFF commitments are determined by federal regulation to provide a high level of aviation safety at an airport.


The primary problem is that airport managers are accountable for the acquisition of highly expensive ARFF apparatus and equipment, as well as the training or hire of operating personnel. For instance, the full cost of the two new ARFF vehicles, including purchase, training, and inspections, comprises $1.6 million for Mineta San Jose International Airport, which cannot be covered without governmental aid (“SJC commissions,” 2017). Besides, despite that an airport can possess a spotless history without notable aircraft accidents, the federal requires the airport management to guarantee compliance with the indicated ARFF Index around the clock. Finally, it is worth noting that there are some doubts concerning the effectiveness of ARFF operations. In particular, Blocker (2020) notes that ARFF regulation issues are related to inadequate training, incomplete or inaccurate documentation, and poor equipment.


The significance of the problem is that the required equipment’s purchase cost is substantial, which entails planning the needed budget to support the airport Index. If the airport does not meet its defined index, the airlines have to use only those planes that are permitted within the next lower Index group (“§139.315,” n.d.). This fall can strike airline operations, which ultimately results in considerable financial loss. Hence, airport management should obtain ARFF facilities that satisfy the response time requirement. This requirement implies that “within 3 minutes from the time of the alarm, at least one required ARFF vehicle must reach the midpoint of the farthest runway” (“Airport rescue,” n.d.).

Alternative Action 1. Airport management can consider lower-cost alternatives to outright ARFF vehicle purchases.

  • Advantages: Procurement costs of ARFF apparatuses may be effectively reduced through investigating other acquisition options provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airport maintenance organizations, and other authorized airport officials.
  • Disadvantages: The given search process regarding the procurement of necessary ARFF vehicles may be time-consuming and distract the administration from other vital responsibilities.

Alternative Action 2. Airport chiefs can appeal to other industry organizations that use ARFF facilities and deliver advanced practices that meet ARFF requirements.

  • Advantage: Due to close and active cooperation, useful knowledge of the airport industry can be obtained during the exploration process.
  • Disadvantage: In case of inadequate site planning, such cooperation may inflict additional costs associated with lengthier distances and put the airport at risk of non-compliance with ARFF Index requirements.

Alternative Action 3. Instead of assuming the total financial burden on its own, airport managers can apply to the FAA for funding support.

  • Advantages: Significant savings.
  • Disadvantages: The given decision can be time- and labor-consuming since FAA provides permission on funding over considerable time, sometimes in the next year when a new budget will be adopted. This waiting may lead to a fall in the ARFF Index.


The airport management should create and empower a special group to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the proposed alternatives. Based on the analysis, the group should estimate the advantages and drawbacks of all options and select the most reasonable in terms of cost, feasibility, and applicability. It is worth noting that the management should build close collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration since this can give valuable aviation-related and firefighting experience and knowledge. Moreover, the FAA can provide substantial financial assistance, which will compensate for the expenditures partly.


(ARFF). (n.d.). Department of Port Administration. 2020. Web.

Blocker, K. (2020). Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting capabilities: Are today’s standards protecting passenger’s futures? Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Web.

. (n.d.). Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. 2020. Web.

SJC commissions new fire trucks. (2017). AviationPros. Web.

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