An increase in size and frequency of flights drives the need for a first response fire service on site.
Visitors to Gisborne Airport may have noticed a big fluorescent green addition to the usual line up of planes and helicopters: a new fire truck.
This fire appliance is stationed permanently on site and represents an important milestone for the airport, with flight capacity by Air New Zealand having grown.
“Until recently, the local fire service has been our first responder in case of any emergency, and they will continue to provide support. From now on, the new airport fire service will provide immediate rapid response should it be required until the local fire service arrives,” said Gisborne Airport Manager Murray Bell.
“With the larger Q300s on both the Auckland and Wellington routes, and the number of flights increasing, we need a fire truck with a fire officer on duty at the airport all times. This is a requirement of Civil Aviation Authority regulations.”
It will be ready to respond to any potential incident involving any aircraft that use the airport.
The MAN airport fire truck is a V10 turbo-charged diesel four wheel drive, producing 324 kw at 2,400 rpm. It carries 2,800 litres of water and 220 litres of foam concentrate. The pump is a Rosenbauer R290 that produces 2,800 litres per minute, with the roof monitor capable of 1,800 litres per minute and the bumper mounted monitor 1,000 litres per minute – all controlled from the cab of the truck.
The service is provided by specialist contractors Task Protection Services Ltd, with support from Air New Zealand.
New jobs created
Task Protection Services provide and maintain all equipment, staffing and training. The senior station officer, Quentin Hamilton, has relocated from Palmerston North, and will manage the overall fire service operation at the airport.
“As well as the station officer, there are positions for several locals, as we need someone on duty while the airport is operating each day. Task Protection Services have recruited and are training some local staff,” said Mr Bell.
Brandon Reade, General Manager of Task Protection Services, added that Task Protection is at the airport to provide a variety of services to the airport business, airline operators, Eastland Group and the travelling public.
“We’re delivering first medical response, emergency response and wildlife management as a team, alongside the New Zealand fire service, police and ambulance service. We’re at the airport from the first flight in the morning to the last flight at night, seven days a week. We look forward to working together to assist in providing a safe and progressive airport for the Gisborne community.”
Welcome extension to firefighting capabilities
New Zealand Fire Service Area Commander Charlie Turei said the introduction of the airport’s rapid intervention fire appliance is a welcome addition to existing firefighting capabilities.
“While the New Zealand Fire Service has been the primary source of fire suppression in recent years, an on-site specialist truck has no equal. Our fire service role will change to that of a support role. The priority for us remains the same – that is, to save lives. Just as critical, we’ll be on call to supply additional water to the airport appliance, in order to obtain the maximum knock down on any potential fire threat.”
Regular training and testing
The airport fire service will operate from a building behind the control tower.
“The officers will head out regularly for operational functions and safety checks, training and testing,” explained Mr Bell. “So if the public see the fire truck rush out with lights flashing, it will probably be conducting routine operations or training exercises. It’s all part and parcel of the service.”
Main photo, left to right: Daniel Bergloff-Howes (Fire Officer), Murray Bell (Gisborne Airport Manager), Hamish Rennie (Trainee Fire Officer).