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Containing Conflagration.

Byline: Joseph Benny

Conventional aircraft firefighting methods have taken a backseat with the advent of technology. With the Middle East playing host to a large number of tourists, aircraft safety has assumed paramount importance.

Unfortunately, there are almost no institutions in the GCC in which to learn such safety skills. However, Oman can hold its head high with the International College of Engineering and Management offering the ICAO-certified (Inter-national Civil Aviation Organisation) courses in airport rescue and firefighting, which are attracting students from all over the region.

The college management claims it is the only institution in the GCC offering courses in aircraft fire safety.

According to Pradeep Karun, assistant dean of International College of Engineering and Management, which is affiliated to the University of Central Lancashire, AoOurs is the only course currently available in the GCC.

Students from neighbouring countries have been studying here due to its job potential.Ao According to the college management, the course, which is approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, is very much in demand from students.

Ismail al Mawali, one of the instructors of the course, said, AoWe have trained people from Kuwait, the UAE, Baghdad and Saudi airports.

Often, we get good feedback from the companies and the airport management.Ao Aircraft firefighting requires quick planning and a well-thought out plan. The rescue operators work on the premise that no two fires are the same.

To make matters more complicated for them, aluminium Au with which the body of the aircraft is made Au weakens in 200AC heat, bends at 400AC and decomposes in 600AC heat. Aviation fuel generates 840AC heat in 45 seconds.

Shane Evans, fire ground manager at the college, said, AoIn the unfortunate event of an aircraft incident, the airport firefighter will be exposed to a multitude of hazards that can only be tackled in a safe controlled manner by highly trained and skilled personnel. Any incident of this type requires a rapid intervention by the fire service in order to suppress the fire and to make safe any hazards and assist with the evacuation and rescue of passengers on the aircraft.Ao

With the advent of technology, traditional methods of firefighting have given way to modern tools like the telescopic extending boom. Another device that has grabbed the attention of fire officers is the electronic monitor unit.

This computer-aided equipment helps the firefighter understand the breathing air left inside the aircraft and also helps him to communicate with the monitoring cell outside the aircraft.

A fire in a helicopter, on the other hand, can wreak havoc as the passenger sits sandwiched between the fuel tank and the engine. Though there are many chemical components available in the market which are quick to put out flames, these products do not cool the atmosphere and thus there is no guarantee against a fire starting afresh.

Accordingly, water is still and always will be the preferred medium when it comes to firefighting. About the job potential of the course, Khalaf Jaban K al Anzi, one of the students, said that as Oman is banking on the tourism industry, job prospects are high in the aviation sector.

Jaban, who is working for Chevron Oil in KSA, added that Muscat and Salalah airports are getting ready for a facelift, and more hands will be needed to handle the safety aspects.

Further-more, the six new airports planned in various parts of the country will also result in more jobs for those who have done a course in aircraft safety and firefighting.

Apex Press and Publishing

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Nov 22, 2009
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