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Comfort Wear - BA Problem


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I'm currently in talks with my highers and safety  at a privately owned but licensed Airport ref the standard of RPE my fire crews have. We are currently running full SCBA yet I'm being asked if we can remove all SCBA and replace them with Filtered Masks due to the cost of renewing them.  As a BAI and the training officer i have strongly disagreed have proven evidence with Safety data sheets that SCBA is indeed required but this seems to fall on deaf ears does anyone know any other forms of assistance i can look too? 


We have been told that we are operating in "Fresh air anyway!" so it shouldn't be a problem any advice is appreciated.  

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You may be better off looking at CAA regs, is it something to do with size,use,fuel load of aircraft etc,is that not how low cat airfields get away with it.

For years, RAF/NAVY/MOD fire only had BA for the domestic fire applaince on airfields, many of the old and bold retired have CPOD etc,these days airfield trucks have moved away from manned sidelines for H&S reasons

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Yeah i have looked into our catagory of airport we have cat 3 which states BA on the fire tender yet the problem is the privatisation of the airport the CAA will only give us guidelines to follow ....these are still being pushed to one side i was wondering if there was any legal HSE lines that could help us ? 

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I am not an aviation firefighting expert by any description, but I have had some dealings with airfields licensed by the CAA and MoD and the compulsory standards for fire cover are really poor - and in particular, the 'guidance' for privatised fire services operating on licensed airports.

For example, CAP 168 (that sets standards for airport fire cover) is all about 1) speed of response, 2) getting wet stuff on the hot stuff and 3) the training of personnel to respond 

It goes into great detail about the foam capability required at each category of airfield, staff training, and staff fitness levels - but away from getting there quick and wetting down the fire, it is a bit vague. 

I am amazed that the owner of this airfield is being so tight with profits of £2.3 billion - but keeping shareholders happy seems to be more important than keeping staff safe.

WMWoody - can I make a suggestion or two?

1) Pleaserop the idea and use of the term 'comfort wear'. That passive term gives your employer a way out as it sounds like a perk and not a right. The University of Central Lancashire and FBU have done a ton of work on FF health and their studies show that there are significant health concerns from particulate ingestion - and especially when working remotely from any fire and not wearing BA 

BA procedures for car fires mean it is now commonplace for BA to be used on such fires where it was seen as a comfort wear so not that important in the past.

So it is NOT a comfort wear to don BA next to a burning aircraft, its an essential part of a safe system of work in accordance with H&S legislation - and I suggest that's the attitude you take. OK it won't happen very often, but CAP 168 recognises the primary role of a RFFS is to save life. So your employer is accepting to may be working in smoke in the open air and must adopt active control measures such as SCBA.

2) As part of your research, I would strongly advise you to contact Uclan and the FBU as a start to see if they have any data or evidence that will strengthen your case. Tis whole situation is akin to attitudes to passive smoking, where it is now accepted that those close to a smoker have a risk of harm.

If your employers suggest that by adopting defensive firefighting tactics is a safe system of work, comparing passive smoking and defensive firefighting (and use of strong data) may sway them. After all, how much does it cost as a % of their £billions to supply and maintain BA? And how much would it cots each pilot if they were levied an additional landing fee to cover it? 

Good luck with your campaign. I know you are against it as unless businesses MUST do something, they often prefer not to. I have had dealings with Crapita since the privatisation of the MoD Firefighting service. Its appalling that like in your case and the CAA, the Govt (MOD) allow Crapita to ermine their own fire cover in terms of personnel numbers and hours of operation. 

As a result, numerous changes/reductions have been made to fire cover. Some say its to increase their profits, but I couldn't possibly comment 

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Thank you for the kind words and advice i will follow your advice up and look at what i can gather and hopefully keep you all posted ! 

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How a company that had problems meeting other goverment contracts, was suddenly when in danger of going bust, trusted with safe guarding the nations QRA and CASD beats me

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