Final stage of training in extinguishing aircraft fires using fluorine-free foam at the Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy
Zg. Brnik, 19. 5. - Partnering with Vienna Airport, the Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy is carrying out the EcoFoamFight project as part of Erasmus+, an EU programme supporting education, training, youth and sport in Europe. With the last practical fire extinguishing exercise using fluorine-free foam, the training programme, which combines innovative digital and environment-friendly approaches to educating and training airport firefighters, entered the final stage of its development.
On Wednesday, 19 April, the final fire extinguishing exercise using environmentally friendlier foam agents was carried out on a model aircraft on the Aviation Academy’s apron. It included 18 firefighters and instructors from the Ljubljana and Vienna airports. They demonstrated a pilot training exercise in putting out aircraft fires using firefighting foam in practice. This was the concluding stage of the one-year Erasmus+ project that Fraport Slovenija has been carrying out in collaboration with Vienna Airport.
Milan Dubravac, training specialist and instructor at the Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy, said the following about the firefighting tactics used in the training programme developed: "There have been significant changes and challenges in airport firefighter training that airport firefighters will have to deal with in the future. Negative impacts on the environment and new ecological regulations will also considerably change the methods of their training. The goal of our project was to explore new trends and prepare guidelines for future training. Its results will thus include airport firefighter training guidelines and a proposed training programme using a driving simulator and ecological firefighting foam. This programme proposal follows the latest digitisation trends and ecological standards. The project results will be available to all airport firefighters in the EU.”
“It’s vital to transition to more effective firefighting procedures that also place less burden on the environment. Together with Vienna Airport, we have combined our rich experience and knowledge and offered to the education market a high-quality, innovative programme for training airport firefighters that’s in line with the related environmental guidelines,” said Mateja Košak Maljevec, Head of the Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy.
The vision of the Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy is to be one of the leading training centres in the field of airport firefighting in the region. In response to the Erasmus+ call for developing new vocational education and training programmes emphasizing green and digital transitions in the field of education, Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy submitted a proposal together with Vienna Airport Department for Training Airport Firefighters. The training programme started to be developed one year ago and is to be concluded by the end of April 2023.
Transition to reduce the impacts of training and firefighting interventions on the environment and the health of firefighters
More stringent European legislation on firefighting in the aviation industry requires a faster and more efficient transition to reduce the impacts of training and firefighting interventions on both the environment and the health of firefighters. The growing environmental awareness and related legal requirements are particularly challenging for the field of firefighting, but they also promote the development of environmentally sound technologies and products. As part of the EcoFoamFight project, in which Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy and Vienna Airport are participating, a programme will be developed to improve the firefighting skills of airport firefighters by using a digitalized approach and more environmentally friendly firefighting foams. Both partners will develop new guidelines for firefighting training by using digitalized solutions to partly reduce the need for practical exercises, and subsequently decrease the impacts of such work on the environment by ensuring at the same time a high level of practical knowledge with regard to fighting fires with more foam agents that do less harm to the environment and human health.
Head of Fraport Slovenija Aviation Academy, Mateja Košak Maljevec
“It is vital to transition to more effective firefighting procedures that also place less burden on the environment.”
Fifty firefighters – 25 from Ljubljana Airport and 25 from Vienna Airport – as well as four instructors are involved in developing the programme. Both partners are jointly designing the theoretical education part, whilst the practical part has been carried out by Fraport Slovenija as the lead project partner under the aegis of its Aviation Academy. The pilot project includes training with 3D technology in a simulator for operating ARFF vehicles, an approach that the modern training centre at Ljubljana Airport prides itself.
Extinguishing fire with fluorine-free foams
The Fraport Aviation Academy offers a programme for fighting fires with fluorine-free foams in partnership with the Dr. Stahmer company, one of the leading researchers, developers and manufacturers of firefighting foams. The most commonly used foams that contain fluorine, known as AFFFs (Aqueous Film Forming Foams), are now gradually being replaced with fluorine-free foams in accordance with the new European legislation. Fluorine foams are high performance foams as they are based on fluoro-organic compounds such as fluorine binders and fluoropolymers. As these chemicals make foam bubbles fuel-repellent, the fluorine foams are very efficient at extinguishing chemical and petrochemical fires, but lack biodegradability and pose hazards to the health of the firefighters and environment. That is why their use is becoming more and more limited. Fluorine-free foams have been marketed for some time now, and their properties have significantly improved in the recent years making them almost as efficient as fluorine foams when applied correctly by firefighters. The new generation of foams requires the development of new extinguishing and application methods and tactics. This is the only way to increase their extinguishing capabilities. The Academy and Dr. Stahmer are working together on developing these tactics, raising awareness of both the stricter environmental standards and the new generation of fluorine-free foams.
The EcoFoamFight programme is funded by the European Union. The views and opinions represented here are those of the authors only, and do not express the views and opinions of either the European Union or the Erasmus+ programme, and thus these institutions cannot be held responsible for them.