Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council

Airport Crash Fire Tenders and Rescue Crew


In the bustling world of aviation, safety is paramount. From the moment an aircraft taxis down the runway to its ascent into the sky and eventual landing, countless measures are in place to safeguard passengers, crew, and the aircraft itself. Among these critical safety measures are airport crash fire tenders and rescue crews, often unsung heroes whose swift and efficient actions can mean the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency.

What are Airport Crash Fire Tenders?

Airport crash fire tenders, commonly referred to as ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting) vehicles, are specialized firefighting vehicles equipped to handle aircraft emergencies. Unlike traditional fire engines, ARFF vehicles are purpose-built to respond to the unique challenges posed by aircraft accidents, including fires, fuel spills, and structural damage.

Key Features of Airport Crash Fire Tenders:

  1. Rapid Response Capabilities: ARFF vehicles are strategically stationed at airports to ensure rapid response times in the event of an emergency. Equipped with powerful engines and advanced suspension systems, these vehicles can swiftly navigate airport runways and taxiways to reach the scene of an incident without delay.
  2. Fire Suppression Systems: ARFF vehicles are equipped with a range of firefighting equipment, including high-capacity water cannons, foam suppression systems, and dry chemical agents. These systems are specifically designed to extinguish aircraft fires quickly and effectively, minimizing the risk of catastrophic damage and loss of life.
  3. Specialized Equipment: In addition to firefighting capabilities, ARFF vehicles often feature specialized equipment such as cutting tools, hydraulic rescue tools, and emergency medical supplies. This equipment enables rescue crews to safely extricate passengers and crew members from aircraft wreckage and provide life-saving medical care on-site.
  4. Enhanced Visibility and Maneuverability: ARFF vehicles are typically outfitted with bright color schemes, flashing lights, and high-visibility markings to ensure maximum visibility in all conditions. Additionally, these vehicles may be equipped with advanced steering systems and all-wheel drive capabilities to navigate challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions.

The Role of Rescue Crews:

In addition to ARFF vehicles, airport rescue crews play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of passengers and crew members during emergencies. Comprised of highly trained firefighters, paramedics, and emergency responders, these teams are responsible for coordinating rescue efforts, evacuating passengers, and providing medical assistance as needed.

Key Responsibilities of Rescue Crews:

  1. Incident Command: In the event of an aircraft emergency, rescue crews assume command of the scene, establishing communication channels, and coordinating response efforts with air traffic control, airport authorities, and other emergency services.
  2. Passenger Evacuation: One of the primary responsibilities of rescue crews is to safely evacuate passengers and crew members from the aircraft. This may involve deploying emergency slides, assisting passengers with mobility impairments, and conducting headcounts to ensure all individuals have been accounted for.
  3. Medical Triage and Treatment: Injuries are common during aircraft emergencies, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to more serious trauma. Rescue crews are trained to provide immediate medical assistance, triage patients based on the severity of their injuries, and initiate transport to medical facilities for further treatment.
  4. Hazard Mitigation: During aircraft emergencies, rescue crews work to mitigate hazards such as fuel spills, structural damage, and fire propagation. This may involve applying foam suppression agents, securing fuel lines, and establishing perimeter control to prevent further escalation of the incident.

Training and Certification:

The training and certification requirements for airport crash fire tenders and rescue crews are rigorous and comprehensive. Firefighters undergo specialized training in aircraft firefighting techniques, rescue operations, hazardous materials response, and emergency medical care. Additionally, many airports require ARFF personnel to maintain certifications such as Airport Firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and Hazardous Materials Technician.


Airport crash fire tenders and rescue crews are indispensable assets in the realm of aviation safety. Their swift response capabilities, specialized equipment, and expertly trained personnel play a vital role in mitigating the impact of aircraft emergencies and safeguarding the lives of passengers and crew members. As air travel continues to grow and evolve, the importance of these dedicated professionals cannot be overstated, ensuring that the skies remain safe for all who take to them.