Bangalore: Aircraft rescue and fire fighting experts from across the globe will land in Bangalore next week to discuss the challenges lying ahead for one of the most critical units at every airports -- the firefighters. Jointly organised by the Aviation Fire Protection Association (AFPA) and Indian Aviation Fire Safety Specialist Group (IAFSSG), the two-day international conference will see over 500 experts sharing their views on making airports more safer.
Sharing details with Express, Ajith Kumar P S, Secretary, IAFSSG, said the meet scheduled on June 26 and 27 will see Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) experts debating a range of topics, including aviation fire fighting requirements for large aircraft, fire protection systems for airport terminals, protection of airport fuel farms and military aircraft firefighting and its hazards. "This is the first time an international meet on fire safety is being held in India at such a large scale. The ARFF Vision 2020 will be announced. India has to go a long way in adopting new technologies in airport fire fighting. We feel he ARFF unis are not getting their due recognition in comparison to our counterparts abroad," Ajith said.
He said the meet aims to help ARFF teams adopt the best aviation safety standards. "Technology development is the key and we can't be hesitant in changing over to smart machines. High-caliber simulators and real scenario training tools are not available in India now. The Mangalore crash could have been handled better had we studied the difficult terrain and provided the right kind of facility and equipment," Ajith, a prominent voice of ARFF units in India, said.
The event, being supported by the Airport Authority of India, Bangalore and Mumbai airports, will also discuss the impact of the aviation boom in India. "The requirements of ARFF teams have changed with the increase in the number of people flying now. Our focus has now shifted to mass evacuation, in case of an emergency. With larger aircraft arriving to the scene, the requirements have also changed. The meet will be a learning ground for us as to how airports abroad handle the massive flying machines," Ajith said.
A Selvaraj, coordinator for the event, said the arrival of aircraft with larger frames have made the job of ARFF teams more challenging. "We need to train our personnel in rescuing passengers from upper deck of the aircraft as well. All modern aircraft carry more fuel loads and this is another area that needs expertise during emergencies," says Selvaraj.
Terming the awareness levels on ARFF in India as low, Selvaraj said that many developed nations possess the technology to simulate passenger movement during a panic situation. "India is not investing enough in aviation fire fighting technologies. Our industry should begin R&D in this segment and come out with solutions. We should manufacture our own machines rather than importing them every time," he said.
HRET OF THE MATTER: HRET (High Reach Extendable Turret) is an equipment used by modern airports abroad to throw foam or water inside the aircraft by piercing the fuselage of the aircraft in case of an emergency. The whole activity can be monitored via an inbuilt camera which is fixed at the nozzle. None of the Indian airports have HRETs.
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