Ready to respond: Boeing Field ARFF, neighbors train to deliver water to airfield emergencies

Fire trucks spray water during a multi-agency water training exercise in August at King County International Airport/Boeing Field.With any fire emergency, firefighters are first to rush to the scene. The No. 1 tool they need is water to extinguish the flames – and at the airport they need plenty of it.

That’s why last month at King County International Airport/Boeing Field, King County Sheriff’s Office Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARFF) unit conducted water-supply training exercises, and we invited our neighbors.

We hosted Seattle, Tukwila and The Boeing Company Fire Departments over multiple practice sessions – organized by our own Deputy Seth Grant with ARFF – in which firefighters delivered large volumes of water from hydrants to incident scenes throughout the airfield.

Getting water to a fire isn’t always easy, and that’s why Boeing Field has hundreds of hydrants – both above and below ground – located at strategic points on the airfield. When responding to a large-scale emergency, crews’ first task is connecting  water supplies from those hydrants to “crash trucks,” which help pump the water hundreds of feet onto a target. Fire crews say it’s more efficient to bring an uninterrupted supply of water directly to the incident rather than send the trucks to a refill at a hydrant.

Firefighters organize during a multi-agency water training exercise in August at King County International Airport/Boeing Field.

These exercises allowed crews to test the capacity of nearly continuous water flow from the crash tracks. They also required the firefighters to identify staging locations, pre-designated access gates and escort procedures. Knowing and practicing these procedures is critical to a quick, effective fire response.

Working with Seattle and Tukwila (who we’d call for mutual aid during a large-scale emergency) and The Boeing Company’s fire department (which operates out of the Airport and regularly provide support and resources during emergencies) is essential.

“When crews from different agencies get together for training like this, we can meet under non-emergency conditions, establish and strengthen our partnerships and explore different ways we can provide fire and emergency rescue services,” Deputy Grant said. “Ultimately, it helps us be better prepared for when an actual emergency hits.”

Firefighters organize during a multi-agency water training exercise in August at King County International Airport/Boeing Field.