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AFOA 2021 AGM held at The Emergency Services Show

21 September 2021

AIRPORT FIRE Officers Association (AFOA) members gathered at the NEC in Birmingham on Tuesday 7 September to attend the organisation’s 2021 Annual General Meeting, which was held on the first day of The Emergency Services Show.

AFOA chairman Simon Petts opened proceedings by presenting a cheque for £2,000 – money raised as a direct result of the organisation’s events – to Kerry James, fundraising manager at The Fire Fighters Charity.

Guest speaker Caroline Anderson QFSM, vice-chair of Women in the Fire Service UK, then introduced her organisation – with whom the AFOA has begun close working of late – to delegates. Anderson outlined the diligent work that the organisation undertakes to inspire and support women operating in Fire and Rescue Services throughout the UK. That work includes regular training and development events.

In point of fact, the AFOA is starting a process to better understand the national picture of women working in airport fire services roles in order to enable and inspire confident and successful women in the aviation firefighting sector. In future, the AFOA plans to hold Best Practice Workshops in collaboration with Women in the Fire Service UK.

Three new workstreams are being established at the AFOA to review issues associated with the emerging areas of spaceports, alternative fuels (including lithium, hydrogen and ethanol) and emergency response driving. The latter workstream is being driven by planned changes in the legislation covering the driving of emergency vehicles. All members with a special interest in any of these three areas are invited to come forward and contribute.

Regulatory framework and legislation

Chris Thain of G3 Systems, who will lead the spaceport workstream, gave an overview of the regulatory framework and legislation for the basics of fire safety and emergency response at spaceports. More information on this subject is available on the AFOA website.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) inspector Andy Fraser highlighted a number of recent changes about which AFOA members should be aware. Post-Brexit, EASA references should be removed from all documentation, although ADR references can be retained. Also, the new Air Navigation Order went live on Monday 6 September. Article numbers have all changed.

Further, the CAA is now the UK space regulator. Spaceports first have to be licensed aerodromes. Last, but not least, RFFS Easements have been extended until January next year.

Reece Büchner, technical sales manager at event sponsors FlamePro Global, introduced the company’s latest firefighting PPE ranges and managed service for PPE cleaning, decontamination, care and maintenance.

Training and compliance

Currently limited to 30 attendees at each gathering, the next two AFOA conferences will be held on 8 December this year and then on 8-9 March 2022. The former is a training-based event taking place at the International Fire Training Centre on Teesside and covers regulatory easements and RFFS compliance. There will also be a tour of the facility and a virtual reality training demonstration.

The March 2022 event focuses on firefighter safety and is to run at Gatwick Airport. Full details are to be confirmed in due course.

The AFOA welcomes applications for speakers and sponsors at both of these events.

AFOA: the detail

Formed back in 1988. the AFOA is a technical body, dedicated to promoting and maintaining the professional image and status of airport Fire and Rescue Services within the UK and Ireland and ensuring continued communications between them through an ongoing dialogue of knowledge and Best Practice focused on all relevant technical and operational matters.

Membership is open to airport fire officers of all ranks as well as local authority liaison officers, manufacturers, training providers and equipment suppliers with whom the AFOA regularly collaborates on industry projects.

*Further information can be accessed online at http://www.afoa.org.uk/