GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
The Grand Junction Regional Airport will be executing a three-day Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) training, and Tuesday, May 5th is day one. Usually, firefighters conduct this annual training as part of their re-certification program, but COVID-19 has changed the training. ARFF Chief, Curtis Hainer says, “We can’t get a lot of hands on as a group. We’ve kinda all had to train on our own. Wearing masks, doing what we can to kind of maintain our distance from each other.”
COVID-19 creates distance, but it doesn’t change the need for re-certification. ARFF Director, Dylan Heberlein says, “It’s dangerous. Firefighting inherently, is dangerous. That’s why you do training, and that’s why you do the things you do to make sure you’re ready when real scenarios happen.”
When asked how the Chief mentally prepares each day knowing it might be his last, Hainer says he asks his team the same question daily, “Is today the day? Are you prepared? Have you checked your gear? Have you checked the trucks?”
Hainer and his team have a lot of pressure to save lives. Especially, the pressure knowing you may be fighting that fire alone. “Sometimes it’s a one person operation, and a 3 minute response to the center of the furthest runway.” Hainer goes on saying priority number one is passenger safety, then priority two is smothering the flames. “We want to provide them the coolest atmosphere to breathe in, and to cool that fuselage to allow them the time to get to an exit,” says Hainer.
Gunnison and Moab are up next for their ARFF training within the next two days, and Grand Junction has nine ARFF members, Gunnison has seven, and Moab has three. For more information on the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting training, click here: https://www.gjairport.com/