Posts Tagged FAA probes CFD staffing of ARFF units at airports

Chicago Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from

The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $1,291,621 civil penalty against the City of Chicago Department of Aviation for allegedly violating aircraft rescue and firefighting regulations.

The FAA alleges that between April and August 2019, three firefighters at Chicago O’Hare International Airport were assigned to a High Reach Extendable Turret vehicle for a total of 18 shifts when they had not completed required training on operating the turret. One of the firefighters, a lieutenant, falsified 13 training-log entries to make it appear he had completed the training, the FAA alleges.

Additionally, a captain at Chicago Midway International Airport was assigned to a vehicle for two shifts when she had not completed required recurrent training, the FAA alleges. That firefighter also accessed the airfield during nine shifts when she was not properly badged or under proper escort.

The FAA also alleges the City of Chicago Department of Aviation failed to ensure that the Fire Department maintained required training records.

The Department has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

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Chicago Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

The Chicago Fire Department chief responsible for the city’s airports was relieved of command, and about 300 firefighters will be retrained amid a federal investigation into how firefighters are certified and assigned to specialty airport fire rigs.

Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Charles Roy, who was in charge of the firefighting operations at O’Hare and Midway airports since November, has not been reassigned yet.

Tim Sampey, who was promoted to deputy fire commissioner after overseeing the airport operations, will split responsibility for the airports with Roy’s deputy until the vacancy can be filled. Sampey ran the airport units for almost a decade. 

The Federal Aviation Administration opened an investigation in July after someone reported that unqualified firefighters were staffing the federally mandated, specialized aircraft rescue vehicles at O’Hare and Midway airports. Separately, the city inspector general’s office is investigating whether any city rules were broken.

The city retained a Denver-based law firm to help with the investigation. That firm has done $3.3 million worth of work for the city on regulatory matters related to the airports, transportation, and other litigation since 2006.

Firefighters assigned to O’Hare and Midway airports on regular engines and trucks will have to get recertified to drive on the airfield, and firefighters assigned to the crash rigs will need recertification to remain on those rigs.

The Chicago Department of Aviation is responsible for ensuring that firefighters are properly trained to drive on the airfields, but department training officers administer the airfield driving tests. Firefighters at the airports have to pass a written test after a 40-hour course and then have about a year to pass the driving test.

Firefighters that are certified to drive on the airfield have lucrative and relatively less demanding overtime opportunities, especially at O’Hare, where engines and a truck assigned to the airfield don’t typically respond off the field.

When the FAA opened its investigation in July, it asked the Fire Department for lists of personnel qualified to operate those rigs dating back to May.

The agency also asked for details of changes made by the Chicago Department of Aviation after the FAA notified them of the allegation, and asked whether the department found instances of unqualified members staffing the ARFF rigs.

thanks Scott

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Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The Federal Aviation Administration notified the City of Chicago in late July about a probe into allegations of unqualified Chicago Fire Department personnel manning ARFF apparatus at O’Hare and Midway airports. FAA regulations state that the specialized airport crews should have an internal training program which is used to initially qualify an operator, as well as continuation training to maintain and re-qualify.

The FAA requested a list of fire department personnel who were qualified to work the airport vehicles between the dates of May 1 and July 25, as well as a list of personnel assignments with their vehicle numbers for each shift over that same period. The federal agency also asked for details of the additional procedures instituted by the Department of Aviation after it was notified of the allegations, and gave the city 10 days to provide any additional information deemed relevant.

As part of its investigation, the FAA asked whether the Department of Aviation identified personnel assigned to an airport rig who weren’t qualified for aircraft rescue and firefighting, whether the Aviation Department communicated that to the fire department, and what action the two city departments took to correct the discrepancies. The city could face discipline from the FAA for any findings of wrongdoings, including potential fines. In severe cases of an airport failing to meet FAA requirements, its ability to operate could be suspended or areas of an airport could be shut down.

The letter from the FAA does not make clear how the investigation originated, whether from information provided to the agency or uncovered during a standard Part 139 audit of airport operations. Part 139 is the FAA’s certification for airports that sets forth, among other things, standards for firefighting and rescue capabilities. Regular inspections to maintain the certification can include timed-response and live-fire drills; reviews of personnel and training records; and checks of specialized equipment.

FAA regulations leave the implementation of training programs to fire and rescue departments that operate the vehicles, but offer some guidance. The agency calls for designated training officers, recertification at least every year, and for personnel to be trained from each operating seat of the extendable turret.

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