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Training our team of FRS firefighters at King Fahd International Airport to an internationally accredited standard

In 2018, Serco was awarded the contract to provide fire and rescue services (FRS) at the King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Led by Dammam Airports Company (DACO), KFIA is the largest airport in the world by area, with 776km2, and the third busiest airport in KSA, averaging over 9 million passengers annually; These figures contribute to KFIA being viewed as the gateway to the Kingdom’s Eastern province.

The KFIA contract draws on the expertise of a multitude of organisations collaborating in the delivery of its service goals, balancing the needs and requirements of clients, end-users, new partners and employees in the process. Former DACO CEO, Mr. Turki Al Jawini, said, “By combining Serco’s expertise as a globally recognised FRS provider with DACO’s ambition, our objective is to serve as one of the effective enablers in the transformation of the KSA’s aviation sector. The collaboration will also help us contribute to the growth of the Eastern Region’s economy through the development of an efficient and effective first step for passengers and cargo.”

Part of the challenge presented to the KFIA management team by DACO and the Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) was to upskill and certify the existing firefighting workforce to an internationally accredited standard, in line with updated GACA regulations, whilst maintaining full contractual and operational commitments.

Experts from the Serco-operated International Fire Training Centre (IFTC) were brought in to conduct a training needs analysis and to develop the initial operational FRS services for Cat 10 and Cat 9 runway requirements.

Building on initial training schemes developed and delivered by the Serco FRS training team, a comprehensive training plan was developed with the neighbouring Fire Science Academy (FSA), an internationally accredited emergency response training school based in the KSA Jubail Province.

The resultant training programme involves intensive classroom, practical, and scenario-based exercises, combined with examination knowledge-checks to allow trainees to demonstrate their emergency responder skillsets. Following successful course completion, trainees will be certified to the internationally recognised standard, US-based and GACA-approved, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) through the Pro Board and IFSAC certification process.

Rick Sharpe, Contract Manager for the KFIA contract, said: “This training and development of our FRS colleagues has been critical for the overall progression and success of the contract, setting a benchmark for all aviation fire rescue services in KSA. We are proud to report that the first and second courses of KFIA firefighters have successfully achieved their qualifications, making headlines in the Arabian news as the first aviation firefighters in the Kingdom to meet the regulatory requirements and the first to obtain the Pro Board aviation qualification outside of the US.”

The full training programme is on track to finish in 2022, by which time more than 100 fire-fighters will have attended, completed and obtained the required NFPA certifications.