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Airport Firefighting Services

Emergency services at Dortmund Airport

There is a full-time firefighting crew stationed at Dortmund Airport to ensure fire protection. The full-time firefighters are supported by part-time firefighters, and together they form the 7th fire station.

As a result of the service agreement between Dortmund Airport and the City of Dortmund, which was signed in 2020, the airport fire brigade forms part of the fire brigade of the City of Dortmund. Thus, a public fire brigade is responsible for fire protection at Dortmund airport, which is a unique situation in Germany and throughout Europe.

The airport fire brigade at Dortmund Airport consists of a total of 46 emergency personnel. The management team consists of three officers on day duty: The fire station manager and two technical coordinators who take care of the special concerns and requirements of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

There are 35 full-time members of staff on the fire station team, split between two station departments. There are always eight of these members of staff on duty, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The two fire station departments are led by two station department heads each and thus correspond to the general organisational structure of a fire station of the municipal fire brigade.

The firefighters live together at the fire station during their shift. When not engaged in operations, during their shift they carry out maintenance on their equipment, and take care of procurements and the general administration of the airport fire brigade. In addition to daily training, service sports and missions, they prepare their own meals and are ready for action around the clock.

In the event of an emergency, the full-time members of the airport fire brigade are supported by one of a total of eight employees from the airport's ground traffic service. These staff members are trained in all areas of the airport fire brigade and receive ongoing training.

In addition to working at the airport, all members of staff also regularly work shifts at fire station 3 of the municipal fire brigade. In return, staff members from there transfer to Dortmund Airport. Through the constant exchange of personnel and continuous training, the sufficiency and staffing of the airport fire brigade is always guaranteed.

The area of responsibility of the airport fire brigade covers the entire grounds of Dortmund Airport and its buildings. The main task is to ensure aircraft fire protection in accordance with the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

ICAO sets the requirements for fire brigades stationed at all civil airports worldwide. Their operations typically include aircraft firefighting and aircraft recovery, among other things. The responsibility of fire station 7 does not stop at the fence or boundary of the property: The alarm response area also includes 1,000 metres in front of and behind the threshold of the runway.

The airport fire brigade's area of responsibility also includes the terminal, the multi-storey car parks and the administrative buildings of the airport. In the event of an alarm, fire station 7 investigates the scene of the incident and initiates immediate measures until the follow-up forces of the municipal fire brigade arrive.

Fire protection

The airport fire brigade is also responsible for preventive fire protection. When rebuilds and conversions take place they are supported by the fire brigade from planning to completion. It issues welding permits to outside companies and sets up fire watches if necessary. Technical installations, such as sprinkler systems and smoke extraction systems, are sometimes also due for nighttime inspections, as these cannot be carried out during the airport's operating hours. In addition, all airport employees receive regular fire safety training. This involves training in the use of fire extinguishers and other important fire safety issues.

Bird scaring

One of the more unusual tasks for the fire brigade is bird control. The airport fire brigade supports the airport's landscape gardeners in the prevention of bird strikes. At the request of the pilots, the control tower or apron control, individual birds or entire flocks of birds must be chased away in the area of the runway so that they do not interference with flight operations or cause a bird strike, i.e. an accident between a bird and an aircraft taking off or landing.

Rescue service

With more than 2 million departing and arriving passengers a year, medical emergencies occur regularly. There is a first responder unit at the station in the form of a van, to provide medical first aid of passengers, visitors and staff. The van is fitted out like a regular ambulance and is manned by a team from the airport fire brigade. In parallel, an ambulance from the municipal rescue service is alerted for these calls. As soon as the situation allows, the fire brigade is relieved by the ambulance service, which then takes over the further treatment and (if necessary) transports the patient to a hospital. 

General basic and advanced training usually takes place at the fire station.

A special feature is the recurring real fire training in the field of aircraft fire fighting. Such specialised training can be undertaken, for example, at the International Fire Training Centre in Teesside in the north-east of England. During the training, which lasts several days, the tactical procedure for rescuing people in air vehicles, vehicle positioning and jet pipe training are practised under conditions that approximate real situations.

Furthermore, staff are also trained in the recovery of crashed aircraft. For this purpose, employees regularly attend training courses and sessions jointly with other airport locations. Since they are always on site, they also represent the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation in the event of an accident, and certain staff members are specially trained in securing aircraft.

Vehicle fleet

The EASA fire brigade for fighting aircraft fires consists of a command vehicle, two airfield fire-fighting vehicles and an auxiliary fire-fighting vehicle. The fire brigade is four vehicles strong.

In order to always remain operational even in the event of technical failures and repairs to an airfield fire engine, the airport fire brigade fleet includes a total of three airfield fire engines.