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Fire and Rescue Services at the Kingdom's Airports, the First Line of Defense, When Dealing with Aviation Accidents and Securing Lives
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 11 - 03 - 2020

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) adheres to the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), especially those related to safety, fire and rescue in all of its airports, in context of the international interest in fire and rescue services in civil airports around the world.
The availability of units that specialize in providing fire and rescue services in every airport is a prerequisite for the airport to operate and obtain an international licenses, according to the fourteenth annex of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation relating to the design and operation of airports.
Moreover, out of GACA's convictions to the fact that fire and rescue are the first line of defense to face aviation accidents and secure the safety of lives and facilities in airports; for that reason not only was GACA interested in providing those services at every airport in the Kingdom, but it also by providing support to those airports with equipment that are compatible with the latest developments and global technology. The fleets of huge vehicles are capable of carrying large amounts of water and foam (fire extinguishing materials), and other advanced devices and equipment, which enables fire and rescue services to reach any accident or fire occurring in the vicinity or airport facilities within 2 minutes, and not to exceed three minutes at the highest estimate.
It is worth noting, that GACA has attracted specialized cadres necessary to carry out the tasks of fire and rescue services in airports, and trained them until they became highly skilled. The fire and rescue staff were to join specialized training courses to keep pace with global developments in this field, through the Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation. The aforementioned academy includes a specialized training center in the field of Fire and Rescue Services, and offers the following programs: High Diploma of Fire and Rescue (3 years), Diploma of Alarm Operators (6 months), Airport Fire Fighting Diploma (6 months), Induction program for paramedic (3 months).
The center also provides short development courses for various jobs in airport fire and rescue services, including (hazardous materials, educational and operational level, technical, first and second level firefighting classes, command and operation, aircraft firefighting, first fire inspector, first fire trainer, and first fire officer).
The center relies on a set of tools, including: technical training according to international standards, training in advanced analogous models. It covers the needs of GACA of qualified firefighters, it also market its training programs and various courses for those interested in this field. This is in addition to ensuring the quality of training programs through its various global partnerships.
The fire and rescue units at all of the Kingdom's airports periodically conduct hypothetical experiences of emergency plans to determine the extent of preparations, readiness and speed to face accidents and fires with the relevant authorities. Furthermore, it tests their ability to use the various equipment and machinery as intended. This is in addition to performing certain exercises that ought to train them to anticipate accidents before they occur. All of these are in the aim of reducing the loss of life and property in cases of accidents.
The fire and rescue services cover all emergency situations within the airport boundaries, they also respond to accidents that occur outside the airport within the framework of the agreement with the competent authorities in the region.
The number of employees in the fire and rescue services at the Kingdom's airports is about (1347) employees distributed among (28) firefighting and rescue units in the Kingdom's airports, while there are 784 employees working in airports that have turned into companies.
The Fire and Rescue Training Center at the Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation of the General Authority of Civil Aviation has obtained the first domestic and international accreditation from the Aviation Standards Department in the General Authority of Civil Aviation in 2018, through today. The center achieved at the end of 2019 a new international achievement after its approval by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) as one of the accredited members in the field of training, during an international conference in Kentucky, USA.
During the year 2019, the Academy's fire and rescue training center witnessed the graduations of (15) diploma holders (alarm operators) , and (19) paramedics. Meanwhile, the Academy held (154) training courses in the field of fire and rescue, that were successfully passed by (2596) employees of fire and rescue services employees working in the Kingdom's various airports.

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