Citizens and air travelers should not be concerned if they see a plume of smoke or what appears to be an aircraft on fire at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown or Kansas City International airports.
For the next several days the Kansas City Fire Department Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF) unit is conducting training at both airports for its staff as well as structural units from Kansas City and the surrounding area.
Recognizing its duty to protect the flying public, the Kansas City Fire Department and Kansas City Aviation Department regularly conduct these training exercises and other training in order to maintain proficiency in the specialized tactics and equipment required to fight aircraft fires and to ensure compliance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. On May 16, there will be a full-scale emergency exercise at KCI.
Appearing much like an aircraft fuselage, the Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer (MAFT) provides an opportunity for Airport Rescue Fire Fighters to "Train as They'll Fight" on their own turf and with their own equipment. Funded by the FAA and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the operation of the MAFT is coordinated by the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute. Training with the MAFT allows ARFF personnel to train with their equipment and standard operating procedures. By training at “home”, ARFF personnel can train with off-airport mutual aid fire departments and together learn the procedures and techniques needed to save lives when an aircraft accident/incident occurs. The fire fighting will occur with specialized ARFF trucks as well as hoses from trucks used in structural fires.
At Downtown Airport this activity will be on the west side of the airfield near the FAA control tower April 16-18 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. At KCI Airport the training will occur at the U.S. Post Office on Paris Street. To experience aircraft fire fighting day and night, the KCI training will occur April 20-22 from 2:00 p.m. until 11 p.m. and April 23-26 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In 2005, the Kansas City Aviation and Fire departments unveiled a new ARFF station at Kansas City International Airport for on-airport emergency response. The facility, strategically located on the airfield in an area between taxiways Alpha and Lima, was an imperative replacement of the old station which no longer met equipment and staff needs. This central location helps fire fighting crews reach the three runways more quickly than the previous station location. Shorter response times can make the difference in saving lives. Open 24/7/365, the station houses a full crew of Kansas City Fire Department fire fighters and specialized ARFF vehicles.
In 2015, a 2,900 square-foot ARFF facility was completed at Downtown Airport to enhance emergency response. While the facility is considered unmanned, it provides the infrastructure to house two ARFF vehicles and train assigned structural Kansas City Fire Department companies the correct ARFF response to Federal Aviation Administration standards. With its strategic midfield location just off Missouri 169 Highway, the facility serves as the new location for aircraft emergency standby and responseon the airfield. The Department has a new ARFF vehicle to supplement one already stationed at the airport.
The Kansas City Airport System is an Enterprise Fund Department of the City of Kansas City, Mo., and is supported wholly by airport user charges. No general fund tax revenues are used for the administration, promotion, operation, or maintenance of the airports in the system. Visit flykci.com for more information. Find us on Twitter and Facebook.