Earlier this year, Atlantic Regional Vice-President, Chris Bussey attended an International Conference on Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) on behalf of UCTE.

What Chris saw and heard at this conference from both American and Canadian colleagues was how much work was being done in the United States to build capacity and improve ARFF services and programs. But in Canada, the situation is going in the completely opposite direction.

Chris reports that ARFF has eroded to the point it has become a proverbial “tick in the box” as it relates to most airport operators. He also noted concerns that Canadian Aviation Regulations are woefully inadequate; especially in the areas of training, staffing, incident command, and interior firefighting capability.

The fact is that most airports in Canada have moved to some form of Aircraft Operations System (AOS) where firefighting has been downgraded to an add-on duty or a secondary or even third-rate role. UCTE members are required to preform these duties as a condition of their substantive job as an Equipment Operator or another Trade. They receive the bare minimum of training and could find themselves at a huge disadvantage if and/or when faced with a disaster or an accident at their airport.

This cost-saving trend is putting not only the employees at risk but passengers and crew as well. The AOS model and the degradation of ARFF services in Canada has created a situation where an incident, injuries, and potential deaths are well within the range of possibilities.

UCTE is launching a national campaign aimed to restore full aircraft rescue and firefighting at Canadian airports. In order to do this, we will need your feedback.  Watch for an important feedback survey from UCTE on this issue, coming to your in-box in September. We hope you will join us in this important initiative.

To read the full report, please click here.