PUTZBRUNN, Germany (October 24, 2018) – The Vienna airport fire service holds regular training courses which firefighters from home and abroad can attend. In view of the huge variety of exercises performed at these training sessions, the Vienna airport fire service instructors wear protective garments equipped with a new GORE® PARALLON® fabric technology.
Last year, the Austrian capital's international airport handled 24.4 million passengers and 224,600 air traffic movements. The airport fire service is located in two different places so that firefighters take no longer than three minutes to get themselves and the required amounts of fire extinguishing materials to any area of the airport where there is movement of aircraft on the ground. The respected fire service runs some 20 training sessions a year at Vienna airport. The programme doesn't only target external participants. It also provides a great opportunity for the ongoing training and development of the fire service's own staff. Strictly regulated by statutory provisions, the programme has been set up in close collaboration with the competent supervisory authorities. 30 instructors, comprising around 40% of the service's firefighters, conduct the courses. The training programme has been running for the past 15 years, guaranteeing that fire service personnel receive ongoing and consistent training. It is organised by the Fire and Rescue Training Academy, which is part of the Emergency Department of Flughafen Wien AG, the airport operator.
Participants from Germany, Switzerland and the Slovak Republic
In addition to sharing their experience and expertise, the instructors are also responsible for the safety of the participants – for example, in and around the special demonstration unit that can replicate flameover incidents and other forms of fire behaviour. The courses also focus on firefighting incidents involving pressurised liquids, such as kerosene, and search and rescue operations in smoke-filled rooms and other situations in which it is impossible to see anything. Training sessions that cover the use of technical appliances and equipment are also offered. Participants are taught how to handle handheld fire extinguishers, different categories of fire engines and thermal imaging cameras. They also perform practical firefighting exercises and practise conducting technical rescue operations. The programme is used by several Austrian fire services, airport fire services in Switzerland and the Slovak Republic, and even the fire service of the German Armed Forces.
A wealth of experience
Today, safety standards at commercial airports are so highly developed that there are very few incidents involving serious fires. Nevertheless, if you take a look at the fire incidents that have taken place at airports around the world, there's a wealth of experience that can be channelled into the training sessions. For example, in September 2015, the lives of 172 passengers were in danger when at Las Vegas airport one of the engines of a fully fuelled plane caught fire just before take-off. The fire service responded instantly and only 14 people suffered minor injuries. A pushback tug that was being used to tow an empty Airbus A 340 to the gate caught fire at Frankfurt airport in June 2018. The tug burnt out and the front of the plane was severely damaged. The last serious incident to which the Vienna airport fire service was called out was in October 2017. This time it didn't involve a plane. One of the carriages of the City Airport Train (CAT) had caught fire in the train station, which is situated pretty much in the middle of the airport. The airport fire service and other external fire services fought the fire and in the end nobody was hurt.
Protective garments for critical fire ground conditions
Following full-scale wearer trials, in 2017 the Vienna airport fire service chose to procure lightweight protective garments equipped with the new GORE® PARALLON® System for its instructors. By integrating two membranes into the system, this new breed of clothing is the first of its kind to offer constantly such a high level of heat and flame protection - both when it is exposed to water from the outside and when the wearer produces a lot of sweat inside the garment. The clothing is nevertheless breathable and lighter than previous variants and thus increases the wearing comfort and thus the efficiency of the fire brigade staff, both during long training sessions and in emergency situations. The GORE® PARALLON® System particularly shows its strength when fire ground conditions become critical due to a combination of adverse circumstances. Considering the complex nature of commercial airport operations, extreme situations have to be reckoned with. After having been worn for more than a year, the protective garments equipped with the Gore fabric technology have met with an overwhelmingly positive reception from the Vienna airport fire service instructors.
W. L. Gore & Associates is a global materials science company dedicated to transforming industries and improving lives. Founded in 1958, Gore has built a reputation for solving complex technical challenges in the most demanding environments — from revolutionizing the outerwear industry with GORE-TEX® fabric to creating medical devices that improve and save lives to enabling new levels of performance in the aerospace, pharmaceutical and mobile electronics markets, among other industries. The company is also known for its strong, team-oriented culture and continued recognition from the Great Place to Work® Institute. Headquartered in Newark, Del., Gore employs approximately 10,000 Associates and generates annual revenues that exceed $3.5 billion. www.gore.com
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