Shannon Airport has concluded an extensive firefighter recruitment drive, whilst also becoming the first Irish airport to take delivery of two new High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET) fire tenders.
The recruitment process saw 500 applicants contest for only 10 positions, with the new recruits now set to undergo an intensive 12-week training programme to enable them to perform the combined role of airport police and fire personnel.
“It is a new era for the Airport Police and Fire Service in Shannon and we are looking forward to the recruits entering the service,” said Pat O’Brien, Chief Officer Fire & Rescue, Airport Police Fire Service, Shannon Airport.
“Our recruits come from all walks of life, including a painter, a panel beater, strength and conditioning coach and paramedic. Through the selection process they have proved themselves to be capable of working well in challenging environments, and with people who may be in distress.”
The new HRET appliances include the capability to extinguish fire remotely from the vehicle cab, which O’Brien said reduces the risk to firefighters by removing them from direct contact with the fire.
“Also for aviation firefighting, at the end of the HRET there is a piercing nozzle. If you have an internal fire in a cargo hold of an aircraft, rather than commit a team into the risk area, with your thermal imaging camera, you can identify where the heat source is, and you can penetrate the part of the hold where the fire is with the piercing tool,” said O’Brien.
“It literally can pierce through the aluminium of the aircraft. Then you can apply water or foam internally on the fire. It acts like a sprinkler, cooling and suppressing fire. Even if you have to commit a crew to the fire following this, you have already reduced the risk to them by cooling the fire.”
O’Brien added that the firefighting facilities at Shannon have become so advanced that they now have outside fire crews coming to the airport to train, which is an area he hopes to expand on in the future.