IAFF Urges Lawmakers to Bolster Airport Safety by Improving Fire Fighting Standards
“The flying public deserves to see improvement in the lax safety culture that exists at U.S. airports, and the FAA Reauthorization allows lawmakers to show the public that they are serious about improving airport safety.
“Fire protection at airports today is shockingly deficient. We have proposed updating current airport fire protection standards to better protect the flying public and address some of the shortcomings that have festered at our nation’s increasingly busy airports. But lobbyists for the airport industry have embarked on a campaign to maintain the status quo, spreading half-truths and using fear tactics to defeat a proposal from the IAFF to bolster safety.
“Fire fighters want the FAA to update airport fire protection standards in consultation with stakeholders, including representatives of airports and the fire service. Our proposal requires the FAA to determine what effect improved standards would have on airports and gauge whether new standards would increase costs. The proposal also allows the FAA to determine the appropriateness of using enhanced standards. The IAFF accepted significant compromises in crafting our proposal to ensure it would not burden airports.
“The current FAA safety standard is nothing short of dangerous, but airport executives are unwilling to take even the modest steps to improve safety that we have proposed and their own experts have endorsed. Under current standards, flight crews are charged with aircraft fire fighting and passenger rescue. Those standards require fire fighters to remain outside a burning airplane and clear a path for any passenger lucky enough to escape. Airport executives may not see a problem with that approach, but first responders do.
“Airport fire protection standards must be updated, and lawmakers should not allow the selfish interests of a handful of lobbyists and airport executives trump the safety of the millions of passengers who fly each day.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the leading advocate in North America for the safety and training of fire fighters and paramedics. The IAFF represents more than 295,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect communities in every state in the United States and in Canada. More information is available at www.iaff.org.