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The Commonwealth Ports Authority of the Northern Mariana Islands/Saipan International Airport ARFF Department has been training and certifying ARFF personnel as a delegated authority under Hawaii State DOT/Honolulu International Airport for several years.  Chief Stanley Torres is seeking full accreditation for the department and met with Chairman Ken Elmore while in Florida for the Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the requirements.  Chief Martinez Jacobs of Honolulu International Airport is fully supportive of these efforts.

The Saipan International Airport ARFF department is located on the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  CNMI consists of Saipan, Rota, Tinian, and the Northern Islands which are islands located north of Guam on the Mariana Islands chain. The CNMI is a commonwealth in political union with the United States of America. All persons born in the CNMI are U.S. Citizens.

Chief Stanley Torres has also recently overseen the planning and building of a live burn facility at their training center. Below is an email interview with Chief Torres about that facility.  

How did you identify the need for the live burn facility and how was it received when you presented it to your boss? 

AIRPORT FIREFIGHTERS HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN AT LEAST ONE LIVE FIRE EXERCISE PER YEAR. THE COST IS APPROXIMATELY $5000 PER PERSON. THIS WAS TOO COSTLY FOR FIREFIGHTERS FROM THE CNMI, GUAM, AND THE MICRONESIAN ISLANDS.  IN ADDITION, WE HAD TO STOP CONDUCTING LIVE FIRES THE OLD WAY OF SPILLING FUEL ON THE GROUND ON A SIMULATED AIRCRAFT. 

THE FAA HEARD OUR CONCERN AND THEN IN 1999 THE FAA INITIATED A STUDY ON WHERE TO BUILD THE ARFF TRAINING FACILITY.  IN 2000, THE FAA SELECTED SAIPAN.  THE MICRONESIAN ISLANDS SUPPORTED THAT SELECTION AND THE FAA AWARDED SAIPAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT A $3.5MILLION AIP GRANT FOR AN ARFF TRAINING FACILITY.

FOUR YEARS LATER, TODAY, THE FACILITY IS COMPLETE COSTING $4 MILLION.  IN ADDITION TO THE FUNDING OF THE BURN FACILITY, THE FAA AMENDED THE GRANT WITH AN ADDITIONAL $1 MILLION FOR A FULLY EQUIPPED AND STATE OF THE ART CLASSROOM FACILITY. 

THE PROJECT WAS FULLY SUPPORTED BY MY SUPERIORS AND THE ISLAND COMMUNITY.  CHIEF MARTINEZ JACOBS, HAWAII AIRPORTS FIRE CHIEF WAS ALSO A BIG SUPPORTER OF OUR FACILITY AND TRAINING PROGRAM.

Was this built from an existing design, or did you have input into the design and functionality of it?

THE DESIGN IS SIMI LIAR TO THE ARFF TRAINING FACILITY OPERATED BY THE PORT OF SEATTLE. I BELIEVE THAT FACILITY IS ACTUALLY OWNED BY BOTH BOEING AND THE PORT OF SEATTLE.

Were there any unexpected problems that arose and how were they addressed?

WE DID NOT REALLY HAVE ANY PROBLEMS BECAUSE WE WORKED CLOSELY WITH EPA AND OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCIES.

What fuels and/or evolutions do you plan to use/do at this facility?

THE FACILITY USES JET FUEL.  FIREFIGHTERS WILL BE ABLE TO TRAIN ON DIFFERENT SCENARIOS INCLUDING FIRES IN A WHEEL, ENGINE, UNDER WING, OVER WING, PORT,  REAR, AND STARBOARD FOR EXTERIOR FIRES.  IN ADDITION, TRAINING EVOLUTIONS FOR INTERIOR FIRES INCLUDE GALLEY, COCKPIT, BATHROOM, AND CARGO AREAS. 

THE AIRCRAFT IS APPROXIMATELY THE SAME SIZE AS A DC-10 AIRCRAFT, CUT IN HALF.

Are the Firefighters in the photos from outer space or something?  If not, why are they silver?

FAA REGULATION PART 139 REQUIRES AIRPORT FIREFIGHTERS TO USE PROXIMITY FIREFIGHTING SUITS DUE TO THE HIGH RADIANT HEAT FROM FUEL FIRES.

Editorís note:  The standard for proximity protective clothing has recently been incorporated into NFPA 1971, the standard for structural protective clothing. The 1971 Committee is seeking input from  users of proximity PPE. NFPA 1971 opens for public comments in January 2005.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in the past year?

I AM MOST PROUD OF THE OPENING OF THE PACIFIC ARFF REGION TRAINING CENTER AND ALSO THAT THE PRO-BOARD IS CONSIDERING GRANTING SAIPAN FULL ACCREDITATION.

Thanks to Chief Stanley Torres for sharing his new facility with the Pro Board Progress. For more information about the Saipan International Airport ARFF Department click on the link below.

www.cpa.gov.mp

 

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