6-21 Aircraft fire fighting hazards
Firefighters may respond to incidents involving aircraft and perform rescue and fire fighting operations.
Aircraft present unique hazards, due to their composition, fuel and cargo.
Actions for employers
- establish procedures for responding to aircraft incidents
- make sure firefighters are aware of the various aircraft hazards they may encounter
- train firefighters on responding to aircraft incidents, to protect their health or safety
Crash scene hazards
Some hazards associated with crash scenes could include:
- control of access to the airport site may delay the arrival of responding apparatus, including support for the first crew on-scene
- aircraft materials:
- simple composite, such as fiberglass
- advanced aerospace materials such as boron/epoxy, carbon/epoxy or depleted uranium
- radar absorbent materials used in stealth technology
During a fire, the bonding materials in composite materials may burn away, exposing composite fibres which can contaminate living organisms.
- jet fuel:
- the 3 basic types are known as Jet A, Jet B and Avgas
- jet fuels are skin irritants, are heavier than air and will collect in low lying areas.
Hazards associated with aircraft could include:
- movement of propellers or helicopter rotors
- powerful draw of jet engines
- movement of landing gear
- electromagnetic radiation from radar equipment
- hazardous cargo
You can usually find the cargo manifest on or near the cockpit door. The cargo manifest can help identify any hazardous cargo on board.
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
- clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations, and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.
For information firefighters need to effectively perform the tasks for aircraft rescue and fire fighting, read the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting – 6th edition
For a standard on minimum requirements for aircraft rescue and fire-fighting services at airports, read NFPA 403 Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services at Airports
For a standard on design, performance, and acceptance criteria for aircraft rescue and fire-fighting vehicles intended to carry personnel and equipment to the scene of an aircraft emergency to rescue occupants and conduct rescue and firefighting operations, read NFPA 414 Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Vehicles
For a standard on the minimum job performance requirements for airport fire fighters, read NFPA 1003 Standard for Airport Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications