Gerald R. Ford International Airport has broken ground on its new aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) facility with a $14.5 million project that will further enhance passenger safety and aircraft operations.
The 25,000 square foot facility will include larger bays for advanced firefighting vehicles, specialised equipment and expanded training spaces for ARFF personnel.
Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority, said: “We are grateful to celebrate this momentous occasion as we break ground on this new innovative facility.
“This investment is a testament to the airport’s commitment to providing world-class safety and security measures to our passengers, partners and community members.
He added: “This facility will support the Airport Authority’s 19 member ARFF team. Staffed 24/7, the team is specially trained to respond to aviation accidents and incidents, which includes rescuing passengers and crew members, minimizing property damage and salvage operations.”
This new centre will also be used for training and supporting the Ford International Airport’s mutual aid partners.
The construction of the ARFF facility is expected to be completed by February 2025.
Lisa Carr, public safety and operations director for the Ford International Airport Authority, said: “Our team does an excellent job maintaining the highest level of safety, and they look forward to a new building that supports enhanced functionality and efficiency.
“By investing in cutting-edge infrastructure and advanced training for our firefighting teams, we can further prepare for any potential emergencies or incidents that happen at the airport or surrounding area.
No local taxpayer money will be used to finance the project. The construction of the new facility is funded by a combination of federal and state grants, municipal bonds issued by the airport and user fees.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has committed two thirds of the project funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, specifically from the Airport Improvement Grant program.
The involvement of the FAA and Michigan Department of Transportation signifies a strategic investment in the community and further supports the expansion of the airport’s operational activities.
Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E., FAA associate administrator for airports, said: “The unprecedented funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows airports like Gerald R. Ford International Airport to make key investments to improve safety and operations.
“This new facility will enhance the emergency response capabilities of the firefighting teams to better support travellers of Grand Rapids.”
This facility will be an addition to the recently completed airport operations centre, which consolidated key teams such as operations and communications and included a new emergency operations centre.
By strategically positioning the ARFF facility and operations centre together, the airport can increase response times, reduce potential hazards and mitigate risks effectively.
DLZ of Michigan serves as the project architect, with Miller-Davis Company as the general contractor.
Image credit: Gerald R. Ford International Airport