Categories: Breaking News, Training

IFSJ Exclusive: Filling the Gap with ARFF Driving Academy

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Florian Kubowski, Managing Director and CEO of ARFF Driving Academy talks to IFSJ about aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle driver training

The recently launched ARFF Driving Academy (ARFFDA) provides specified Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) driver training to operators and manufacturers of non-commercial ARFF vehicles all over the world.

The training covers the needs of a beginner all the way through to an ARFF experienced expert, on offer seven days a week at any location, with training customised to each airport’s equipment and staff.

With a background of leading engineering, production and proceeding thousands of testing miles with ARFF vehicles, ARFFDA has developed a working knowledge of the daily challenges of airport fire and rescue services. When it comes to technology and driving of ARFF vehicles, the driving academy is designed to help operators to fill any gap from ARFF Driver Training and to increase safety and efficiency.

ARFFDA offers a modular training portfolio compliant to ICAO/EASA requirements, containing initial, recurrent and refresher trainings, supplemented by appropriate proficiency checks. It integrates worldwide normative requirements (such as NFPA 1002/CAA CAP 699) and is designed in line with the requirements of the councils to promote measures to improve road safety.

Florian Kubowski, ARFFDA’s CEO and Managing Director, has long history in the fire service world, having led innovative ARFF vehicle projects in the firefighting industry and accumulated thousands of testing and adapting miles with ARFF vehicles. IFSJ Editor Iain Hoey caught up with Florian Kubowski to find out more about the training on offer from ARFFDA.

Why was the ARFF Driving Academy established?

In recent years we recognised the need for Airport Rescue Fire Fighting vehicle driver training because accidents are known occur with these increasingly faster and heavier vehicles and efficiencyhas become more important than ever, and there was no real specified training for ARFF vehicles on non-commercial chassis to mitigate and train this.

These types of vehicles are different from the standard commercial chassis – they are different to handle, different to approach and different to use. It is mandatory to attend an emergency within three minutes at an airport. In these three minutes you need to bring a lot of extinguishing agents to the place, but in order to fulfil this requirement, you need to use the full potential of the vehicles on hand.

We have been working with customers worldwide who were asking not only ‘how do we use this vehicle, ’but also ‘how do we get the full performance of the vehicle?’. In an airport fire emergency you have to be fast and you have to be safe. These two things come together and nowadays they are accompanied by the need to reduce tear, wear and fuel consumption as far as possible.

General driver training is focused, most of the time, on safety. Being safe, fast and limiting the use of materials is Safe Efficiency in terms of the ARFFDA and our sole focus. This year we have the slogan that to ‘Fill the Gap’ of ARFF driver training. We know there is very little ARFF-specific driver training and it is unique  to exclusively  focus on ARFF non-commercial vehicles only. Our intention is to support to fill this gap  and to increase skills and knowledge so that you have raised safety, improved response time and lowered life-cycle costs

What training do you offer?

We work with a modular system and adapt our training to an airport’s needs. When we plan our training, we look four weeks ahead and begin talking to the airport or airfield about who is to be trained, what kind of airfield it is, it what kind of vehicles are involved.  

We are offering two types of customers the training. One is for manufacturers for who we offer the Basic Vehicle Handling (BVH) training. This training is for up to eight participants held over one day.

This BVH training has a second focus customer wise – the airport fire department. Airport firefighting teams need to be trained in what an ARFF is. The BVH level is for beginners. Its intention is so that after the training is complete the person completing it will be confident in knowing how to handle the vehicle in general and feel comfortable driving it around the airport. BVH lays the basis for our for our 411 training.

The 411 is for essential driving skills. The training is designed to be undertaken by four participants on one day and one trainer. It is about learning awareness of the limit of the vehicle and how to handle it within this limit. We offer BVH and 411 together as a two-day package.

Beyond that is the 411+: an advanced course that focuses on mitigation skills and advanced driving. For example, if you have driven into a bend too fast, 411+ teaches you how to how to rectify the situation and mitigate the potential consequences. We offer this as a two-day package with 411. Finally, after two years we offer a refresher training which is a combination of the 411 and 411 plus called 411R.

We offer an IASA (International Aviation Safety Assessment) training programme that can be integrated into an airfields training programme. Our training is totally focused on the driving of the vehicle to increase the operator’s capabilities. Doing this allows a vehicle operator to having more mental capacity for the other tasks like communication and observation.

We designed the training along the NFPA 1002 and the CAA standards. How we train is based on the German authority for driving training certification. We are working with them regarding how we create content and bring it to participant training.

What has the response been like so far?

We’re launching in April and we are experiencing a very good response so far. We have some highly interested potential customers and have had the first contracts to commence training at international airportswe and are already linked within a worldwide ARFF network and the interest to our training extends from North America to the middle east so far. We have experienced a specific request and need for our training, particularly as there are lots of new firefighters who are joining the airport firefighting team with less and less experience when it comes to driving any vehicle.

What is your plan for the future of the academy?

We have an open and worldwide focus with a clear plan to grow along a healthy path while always delivering the highest quality. That means establishing the ARFFDA way of driver training, continuously learning and evolving as company and qualifying further ARFFDA instructors bit by bit in order to deliver higher safety and efficiency to even more airports.

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