New premises for airport firefighters

Fraport Slovenija has officially opened the newly renovated and expanded firefighting and rescue service premises at Ljubljana Airport. The service has been at the airport since it opened in 1963. 
The service’s beginnings were modest in terms of both equipment and number of firefighters. Today, 56 years later, the airport’s firefighting and rescue service can take pride in quite a few achievements. Beside the fact that the unit can reach any part of the runway or other taxiway within three minutes of being notified of an accident, it is also the largest professional unit in Gorenjska. 
The unit is an extremely important part of the airport system, not only overseeing aviation traffic safety but also securing the entire airport zone and its infrastructure from fire, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The renovated and expanded premises will make an important contribution to improving the working conditions at the unit, while the modernised and upgraded equipment, including the state-of-the-art rescue vehicles, will help the unit to act in a more effective and sophisticated way when dealing with incidents.
Managing director Zmago Skobir addressed the gathered company at the opening, saying: “A professional, technically well-equipped and well-trained firefighting and rescue unit is something every airport needs. The new premises will improve the working conditions of our firefighters still further. The opening of this multi-million-euro project brings to an end a year that has been extremely busy in investment terms. In addition to the renovation and expansion of the firefighters’ premises, there have been a number of other important projects: we opened the Fraport Aviation Academy in March, and have renovated the business information system, continued the construction and updating of the internal road network, and built an aircraft supply hangar and central energy facility. This year, and over the next four years, we will invest more than EUR 40 million in modernising and equipping the airport. More than half the funds will go towards the new passenger terminal, which we began to build in July and which will open by summer 2021.”
In comparison with other firefighting units, the airport firefighting and rescue unit performs a very specific set of tasks, with unit members being entrusted with a very great responsibility: to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff at the airport and to respond effectively and swiftly if lives need to be saved. This highly specialised unit is also responsible for ensuring that the airport buildings and facilities are safe from fire. 
Airport firefighters respond to over 400 incidents a year, so the unit focuses heavily on education and training, and on maintaining and organising protective, rescue and technical firefighting equipment. 
“Of course, it’s not all about equipment and training. We also have to ensure that our response times are quick enough. When I take a quick look around your new premises today, I am more than satisfied that you have given rapid response the special attention it requires, and arranged the premises, equipment and devices in such a way as to enable firefighters to intervene quickly. If we add all of this together, we can conclude that safety at your airport is stepping up to a higher level for staff and passengers alike,” said Milan Korošak, president of the professional firefighters association
The need to intervene in response to a wide variety of events means that the firefighting and rescue unit must pay particular attention to vehicles and vehicle equipment. In the last year, the unit has therefore taken possession of two new vehicles: a special AB-ROLL vehicle with two modules or containers for carrying various items of technical equipment and a hydraulic lift, used for technical intervention procedures, and a command vehicle (VW Transporter) for managing major accidents and incidents.
The firefighting and rescue unit employs 59 firefighters, and their head, Primož Mali, had this to say at the opening: “The unit had good staff, a great deal of knowledge and adequate equipment before the renovation. From today though, we also have very good working conditions. After talking to my fellow firefighters, I would go as far as to say that they are the best working conditions the professional firefighting unit at Brnik have ever enjoyed. In short, airport firefighters have every reason for looking to the future more optimistically than ever before.”
The renovated and expanded premises of the airport firefighting and rescue unit are an important milestone in the operations of the unit, and the renovation and expansion have provided the firefighters with modern working premises and equipment. The unit, which would not have become as successful as it is today without exceptional cooperation and coordination, now has very good working conditions as well.  
Photos: Peter Irman