RAF Fairford firefighters receive new equipment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sergeant Aaron Thomasson
  • 501st Combat Support Wing

The 422nd Fire Emergency Services detachment at RAF Fairford recently put a new fire truck into service. The vehicle, a Rosenbauer PANTHER, delivers state-of-the-art capabilities to RAF Fairford’s airfield firefighting mission.

The PANTHER comes with a new ultra-high pressure firefighting system that allows firefighters to operate it at full capacity for over ten minutes, which more than doubles the system’s effectiveness when compared to the previous vehicle. It also has a number of other upgrades that improve quality-of-life and work capacity for the crews.

“The truck comes with infrared cameras, which have been brilliant, we’ve done a lot of training with those,” said Toni Bendel, 422d FES crew chief. “It’s much more maneuverable than the old P23. It still carries the same dry chem system, but has a turret that can administer both water and dry chem at the same time, that’s a great advantage as well.”

Firefighters at RAF Fairford have adapted their training schedules to maximize the effectiveness of the new equipment.

“The guys have a comprehensive training plan, they’re required live fire training at least semi-annually,” said Trevor Bailey, 422d FES assistant fire chief. “But they do more than that, we do several training evolutions every week.”

Training to effectively use the equipment keeps the firefighting crews safe and effective.

“We need to stay current from a safety point of view,” said Bendel. “The new technology is making firefighting safer. It allows our resources to go further. When we have aircraft come in, it means that we’re offering a better degree of protection.”

This new equipment is part of a broader plan to continue upgrading capabilities at RAF Fairford, as the base transitions its mission from care and maintenance to actively supporting a U-2 squadron and receiving regular bomber deployments from bases in the United States.

“Our role within the last few years has upgraded seriously,” said Bailey. “So to receive this new state-of-the-art truck is a big compliment and with the millions invested in the Air Force and the aircraft that are now visiting this airfield, obviously we needed state-of-the-art firefighting vehicles to deal with those types of aircraft.”

Bendel summed up the advantages of this new equipment for firefighters.

“It just brings a lot of new technology to crash firefighting that we didn’t previously have.”