I did work experience at The Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Service based at MEL
. You cannot believe the intensity of work involved on a daily basis. My day started at 8am when roll call is done followed by assignment to our tenders (fire trucks, or vehicle). Following this ALL
equipment on board the trucks are checked for operation and functionality and that they are stowed into their individual compartments accordingly, by this stage it is usually around 9am. After checking of equipment aboard the tenders the roster table is checked for any routine practices, revision classes, lectures, or teaching work (usually fire cabin crew training), such activities on the roster board include, aircraft familiarisation, domestic fire training, aircraft fire training, HAZCHEM procedures, first aid training just to name a few.
It is the role of the ARFFS to respond to ANY fire or medical related occurrences on airport ground, including tarmac and terminals and in MEL
case a rather large section of empty land surrounding the airport subject to occasional grass fires.
A typical day will see approximately 5 callouts to smoke alarms (mostly false alarms, burnt toast etc..) and maybe 1 or 2 first aid callouts. In my week at ARFFS we had only one serious callout, which was for excessively hot brakes on arrival in which we tracked the aircraft down the taxiway to its gate observing in preparation for action if they caught fire, fortunately this did not occur. In my week we rehearsed the following scenarios, Domestic House fire, HAZCHEM procedures, and Aircraft Familiarisation and recognition. Each of these rehearsals are intensive and are a result of up to a week of planning. The Domestic House fire took 2 hours to set up and about a hour and a half to execute. By the time daily rehearsals are carried out it is about 2pm, depending on the frequency of callouts during the day. At this stage the crew have lunch while watching some TV
Another vital part of operations in the ARFFS is Call tower operations, each crew member spends at least 1 hour shift a day up there and are responsible for all incoming calls and for decisions in which tenders and how many tenders are required for each callout.
I absolutely loved being in the call tower and I spent as much time as I could here. The views are incredible as is the NOISE!, also there is an air traffic scanner on 24/7 to listen to.
The day for the morning shift workers ends at 6pm, before knocking off to go home all equipment must be checked, packaged and stowed away correctly and a checklist must be completed to ensure that everything is in its place for the next crew.
I loved my week at the ARFFS as i gained a huge insight into one of the least recognised and appreciated aviation related professions, the work in intense but in most cases is challenging, exciting and fun. The blokes and woman at Melbourne ARFFS are a top group and i cannot speak high enough of their professionalism and their skills that i have doubt will ensure the wellbeing of all users of Melbourne International Airport.
Anyone who wants some contact information in regards to attaining work experience at ARFFS can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org i am more than willing to help anyone who wants to endure a week of challenging fun.