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Wick Airport Fire Service
The fire service at Wick airport is part of Highlands And Islands Airports services. Fire services are an important part of the work of the airports. Wick has a fire team of 16 men providing cover in two shifts of eight men. When the airport is closed four men are on call at all times for out of hours emergencies.
To ensure maximum efficiency the firemen run training exercises on a weekly basis and work on maintain equipment ready for any emergency. The station has its own maintenance mechanic in a fully equipped workshop adjoining the fire station.
Apart from the two huge fire tenders with there are a range of other vehicles used by the fire service for safety at the airfield. These include vehicles capable of moving large quantities of snow or for spraying de-icer before planes land in freezing conditions. A recent upgrade top the runways involved the installation of a complete new drainage system to capture the chemicals sprayed onto the runway. the chemicals that drain off from the runway with rainfall are collected in two large sumps at either end of the airfield. These measures are designed to prevent chemicals draining into water courses and contaminating land around the airfield. Every two or three months the tanks where the chemicals are stored are collected by tanker for removal and treatment.
Training is a major and ongoing part of the job and at one side of the airfield lies an impressive range of training materials including a huge simulated plane that also double as helicopter. This piece of equipment can simulate many types of fire that might be encountered by a plane. Old cars are used to practice cutting techniques to free passengers trapped. Real fires using a variety or burning material are routinely set on fire for the fire-fighters to practice their techniques. This includes entering a burning plane filled with smoke. Parts of the simulator are set at angles evoking the scenes they might meet. Engine fires, tyre fires and fuels tanks ablaze are just some of the types of fire that are put out in practice sessions every week. The fire tenders can shoot huge quantities of foam onto fires in less than 90 seconds. Speed is essential and the drills are designed to hone the firemen to perfection in all of the rescue techniques as well as putting out any fire or dealing rapidly with any crash situation. The hope is they will never be needed for real.
Rescuing people from burning planes is another of the scenarios. Breathing apparatus is used and the men are well used learning how and where to enter aircraft both through the main doors and hatches located beneath many aircraft.