Solving training needs while allowing local response.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) personnel be trained annually under conditions that simulate actual emergencies. However, training ARFF personnel only once a year, at an off-site location does not guarantee that they will respond quickly, safely, and efficiently in an emergency situation. To sharpen the skills of their first responders, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) applied for and received a grant to construct a full-service, on-site fire training facility. Because of their long-standing relationship with the firm, the airport enlisted Urban Engineers to facilitate design and installation of the trainer.
Located on three acres at Philadelphia International Airport, the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Training Center enables ARFF personnel to meet their federal live-drill requirements, and provides real-life training scenarios using the latest technology. The facility is composed of three components: 1) a two-story control house and classroom, 2) a passive fire trainer inside a 125-foot-diameter propane-fed ring, and 3) an active fire trainer featuring simulated engine, cockpit, cabin, galley, brake, and wheel fires. The second story of the control house contains the computer controls by which the propane fuel is supplied to both fire trainers. Thermo-couples sense the amount of water applied by ARFF trucks and automatically reduce propane delivery to appropriate burner heads. The system simulates application of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) without the expense and contamination risk of the real AFFF.
A computer operating system allows fire instructors the flexibility to create a variety of scenarios and maintain total control of fire development, growth and extinguishment. Fire instructors can format a skill challenge for each firefighter, regardless of experience level. A detailed reporting system collects, tracks and stores individual and group information, which can then be used for performance evaluation.
Urban was responsible for building systems, structural foundations, mechanical and electrical, site electrical and permits, construction phase services and coordination with the Airport and the FAA. Design elements included the burner control bunker, fuel spill trainer foundation, burn slab, airplane mockup support foundation, cooling water and propane isolation pit, propane tank retaining wall, fuel vaporizer tank, and supply air pump pad. Urban also designed the burn pit; a 125-foot diameter gas-fueled, computer-controlled, concrete pit containing mockups for fuselage fires and fuel spills.