Fire and Rescue

Aircraft accidents and incidents are very rare events but due to the nature of flight operations, nearly 90% of them occur at or near an aerodrome, although, most of such occurrences are not related directly to any aerodrome safety issue.

As soon as pilots suspect something is wrong with the aircraft they will attempt to land at the nearest suitable aerodrome. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) mandates that any aerodrome handling commercial traffic must provide Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (RFFS) to save lives in the event of an aircraft accident or incident.

ICAO Standards

ICAO considers RFFS so important that the topic forms part of Annex 14 to the Chicago Convention and is further amplified in the Airport Planning Manual. Extremely detailed standards are then specified in Document 9137 Airport Services which dedicates the whole of Part 1 (over 230 pages) to Rescue and Fire Fighting Services. The ICAO documents specify the level of protection to be provided at an airport, vehicle and extinguishing agent characteristics, siting of fire stations, training of personnel and operating procedures for dealing with an emergency.

One important requirement concerns the response time. The Airport Planning Manual is quite prescriptive on this matter where it states that the airport fire station should be located at a place that ensures that the response times for aircraft accidents and incidents are two minutes, and do not exceed three minutes, to the end of each runway in optimum visibility and surface conditions.

Each airport falls within a particular Crash Category which specifies the equipment, amount of extinguishing agents and number of vehicles and personnel that have to be available at the aerodrome. The airport Crash Category is determined by the size of the largest aircraft operating regularly at that particular airfield. Malta Airport is a Category 9 airport, meaning that the MIA RFFS are capable of handling aircraft as large as the Airbus A330/A340 or Boeing B777, which visit the Island regularly.

The Fleet

The RFFS requires special fire-fighting vehicles. Not only must these vehicles be capable of handling fuel and/or chemical fires but they also have to be speedy while carrying all that is necessary to fight a fire that can be located miles from the nearest water supply. More often than not the crash vehicles combine a mixture of speed, water-carrying capacity, off-road performance and agent discharge rates. The crash vehicles are primarily of two types – the Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) and the Crash Tender, the larger ones being colloquially called Major Foam.

The RIV are normally 4 x 4 pick-up-sized trucks capable of quick acceleration and high speed. These ‘First attack’ vehicles are quite nimble but carry less equipment than the crash tenders because their purpose is to get to the incident faster than their bigger brothers to begin rescue and fire-fighting operations whilst the larger but heavier units are still approaching (although only a few seconds behind).

The current fleet of vehicles at Malta Airport consists of three Rosenbauer FL 6×6 and an RIV Rosenbauer.

Technical Details for Rosenbauer FL 6×6:

Water  Tank capacity: 12,000lts
Foam Tank (AFFF): 1,500lts
Pump out put: 6,000 l/min 10bar
Design: 2 stage
Roof Turret: Rosenbauer RM 60 E
Performance: Full output 5,000 l/ min @ 10 bar, reduced output 2,500 l/min @ 10bar
Jet throw: Approx 74 m with full output, approx. 64 m with reduced output
Bumper Turret: Rosenbauer RM 8 E
Performance: 1,000l/min @ 10bar
Jet Throw: Approx 42 m full jet
Chassis: Frightliner  FL 33.600
Engine: Detroit Diesel  441KW at 2,300 rpm. Maximum speed approx 120kmh
Gear Box: Fully Automatic
Power divider: For production on the move capabilities even in reverse mode.
Dimensions: Length:            11,835 mm
Width:            3,000 mm
Height:            3,600 mm
Gross vehicle weight: 33,000 kg
Other vehicles: A Fiat Ducato van equipped with cutting and rescue equipment, also used for the cleaning of fuel spills.
Two Mitsubishi Pickup vans used for utility purposes.

Technical Details for Rosenbauer MAN 4×4:

Water  Tank capacity: 2,500lts
Foam Tank (AFFF): 300lts
Dry Powder: 250kg.BC
Nitrogen Bottle: 25L
Pump performance: 3,200 l/min 10bar
Closing Pressure: 0l/min @ 15 bar
Pump design & speed single-stage max. 4000rpm (clockwise).
Foam proportioner settings 3%, 6%.
Admixing rate 90 L/min@ 3%, 190 L/min @ 6%.
Priming pump: Double piston, driven by V-belt.
Generator: 24V / 120amp.
Chassis type: MAN 18.540 TGS
Engine: D2676LF09 Euro 5
Engine performance: 540 HP (403 kW)at 1900 rpm
Voltage of consumers: 24 Volt
Batteries: 2x 12 V / 175 Ah
Transmission: ZF12AS 2330 OD MAN Tip Matik
PTO performance: 213 kW at 2340 rpm(counterclockwise)
PTO torque: 870Nm
Wheel base: 3900 mm
Powered axle: 4 x4
Dimensions: Length = 7850 mm; Width = 2500 mm; Height = 3870 mm
Permissible weight: 9000 kg frontaxle; 10,000 kg rear axle
Gross vehicle weight : 18,000 kg