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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee—Provision of rescue, firefighting and emergency response at Australian airports—Report, dated August 2019


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August 2019

The Senate

Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee

The provision of rescue, firefighting and emergency response at Australian airports

© Commonwealth of Australia

ISBN 978-1-76010-988-2

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

The details of this licence are available on the Creative Commons website: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/au/.

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Members

Membership during the 46th Parliament

Chair Senator Glenn Sterle ALP, WA

Deputy Chair Senator Susan McDonald Nats, QLD

Members Senator Alex Gallacher ALP, SA

Senator Gerard Rennick LP, QLD

Senator Janet Rice AG, VIC

Senator Murray Watt ALP, QLD

Participating Members Senator Rex Patrick CA, SA

Membership during the 45th Parliament

Chair Senator Glenn Sterle ALP, WA

Deputy Chair Senator Barry O'Sullivan Nats, QLD

Members Senator Slade Brockman LP, WA

Senator Anthony Chisholm ALP, QLD

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy (to prorogation of Parliament) ALP, NT Senator Janet Rice AG, VIC

Participating Members Senator Alex Gallacher ALP, SA

Senator Rex Patrick CA, SA

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Secretariat Mr Gerry McInally, Committee Secretary Dr Jane Thomson, Committee Secretary Ms Sarah Redden, Principal Research Officer Mr Michael Fisher, Administrative Officer Ms Kate Morris, Administration Officer

PO Box 6100 Telephone: (02) 6277 3511

Parliament House Fax: (02) 6277 5811

CANBERRA ACT 2600 Email: rrat.sen@aph.gov.au

v

Contents

Members ............................................................................................................................................. iii

List of Recommendations ............................................................................................................... vii

Abbreviations ..................................................................................................................................... ix

Chapter 1—Introduction and background ..................................................................................... 1

Referral ................................................................................................................................................. 1

Conduct of the inquiry ........................................................................................................................ 2

Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................. 2

Structure of the report ........................................................................................................................ 2

What are Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services? ......................................................................... 3

Chapter 2—International and Australian regulatory framework for ARFFS .......................... 7

International obligations and standards ........................................................................................... 7

Lodged differences with ICAO ............................................................................................... 9

Provision of ARFF services in Australia ........................................................................................ 10

ARFFS establishment and disestablishment thresholds ............................................................... 11

Aerodrome categories ....................................................................................................................... 12

Staffing requirements ............................................................................................................. 14

Civil Aviation Safety Regulations .................................................................................................... 15

Airservices, the CASRs and the MOS.............................................................................................. 16

Safety standards for ARFFS .............................................................................................................. 18

National Fire Protection Association ................................................................................... 20

Funding of ARFF services .................................................................................................... 20

Chapter 3—ARFFS equipment and resources ............................................................................. 23

Firefighting equipment and ARFFS facilities and training .......................................................... 23

Distress signal units ................................................................................................................ 24

Rescue saws ............................................................................................................................. 25

Ladders ..................................................................................................................................... 28

Firefighting foams .............................................................................................................................. 29

Vehicle shortages ............................................................................................................................... 32

Establishment of new ARFFS fire stations ..................................................................................... 35

Case study - Brisbane Airport ......................................................................................................... 37

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Chapter 4—Staffing levels within the ARFFS ............................................................................. 43

Staffing levels ..................................................................................................................................... 43

NFPA staffing levels ............................................................................................................... 43

Reduction in staffing levels ................................................................................................... 44

Cross-crewing and the Brisbane and Perth airports ......................................................... 45

Category changes .................................................................................................................... 48

Case study: Adelaide Airport ............................................................................................... 49

Views on staffing reductions ............................................................................................................ 54

Legislating staffing levels ...................................................................................................... 54

Chapter 5—Division of responsibility in aviation emergency responses ............................. 57

Provision of nonregulated services ................................................................................................ 57

Division of responsibilities in emergency response ...................................................................... 59

Interaction with state emergency and fire services ........................................................... 61

Chapter 6—Resourcing and administration of ARFFS in Australia ....................................... 67

Task Resource Analysis .................................................................................................................... 67

Use of the TRA in Australia .................................................................................................. 69

Consultation ............................................................................................................................ 71

Regulatory reviews ............................................................................................................................ 73

2015 Regulatory Policy Review ............................................................................................ 73

Postimplementation review - Subpart 139.H .................................................................... 77

Concerns with the regulatory framework .......................................................................... 78

General views on the provision of ARFF services ......................................................................... 78

Performance of CASA ............................................................................................................ 79

Performance of Airservices ................................................................................................... 81

Chapter 7—Committee views and recommendations ................................................................ 85

International standards .......................................................................................................... 85

ARFFS equipment and resources ........................................................................................ 86

Staffing levels and task resource analyses .......................................................................... 88

ARRFS establishment threshold ........................................................................................... 92

Division of responsibilities at airports ................................................................................. 93

Appendix 1—Submissions and additional information ........................................................... 95

Appendix 2—Public hearings and witnesses .............................................................................. 99

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List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

7.11 The committee recommends that the Australian Government conduct a review of Australia's adherence to the International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommended Practices for the provision of Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services in Australia. The review should consider:

 Subpart 139.H of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998;  the associated Manual of Standards;  Australia's adherence to Chapter 9 of Annex 14 of the Chicago Convention; and

 any other relevant regulations, standards and procedures (including those issued by the National Fire Protection Association).

Where the review identifies non-compliance with international standards, the rationale for this should be explained.

Recommendation 2

7.18 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority conduct an audit of all Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS) vehicles and equipment currently in operation across Australia, to determine the level of compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards, and associated Australian regulations and standards (such as the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 and the Manual of Standards). The audit should consider whether the vehicles and equipment adhere to the relevant ARFFS airport category at each aerodrome.

Recommendation 3

7.22 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority implement a testing program for the firefighting foams in use at Australian airports, in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines. The testing should take place under conditions unique to Australia (such as higher ambient temperatures), to establish whether the foams operate effectively to extinguish aviation fires.

Recommendation 4

7.36 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority mandates that Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS) providers use the Task Resource Analysis (TRA) methodology, as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, to determine the suitable staffing

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levels for ARFFS at all aerodromes in Australia where an ARFFS is provided. The TRA should take into consideration the category of each aerodrome.

Recommendation 5

7.42 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority mandate that the Task Resource Analysis (TRA) process undertaken by Airservices must involve appropriate consultation, via the direct engagement of Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting staff and officers at all stages of the TRA process. The consultation should be transparent, and the outcomes made publicly available as soon as is practicable.

Recommendation 6

Recommendation 7

7.55 The committee recommends that the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, and Regional Development undertake a review of the current establishment criteria used for determining whether to implement an Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS). The review should consider whether the current methodology of utilising passenger numbers allows for sufficient provision of ARFFS across Australian aerodromes, in light of increasing passenger numbers in recent years.

Recommendation 8

7.62 The committee recommends that the Australian Government mandate the establishment of a Task Resource Analysis for Domestic Response Services responding to emergencies at aerodromes (DRS TRA). The DRS TRA should determine the additional Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) staff required for responses to non-regulated ands non-aviation emergencies across the aerodrome, over and above the staff required for an ARFF station to maintain category in the case of an aviation emergency.

Abbreviations

AAA Australian Airports Association

AFAC Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities

Council

AIIMS Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System Airservices Airservices Australia

ALARP As low as reasonably practicable

ARFF Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting

ARFFS Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services

ATC Air traffic control

AusALPA Australian Airline Pilots' Association

CASA Civil Aviation Safety Authority

CASR Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998

CEO Chief Executive Officer

CFO Chief Fire Officer

Chicago Convention Convention on International Civil Aviation 1944 Committee Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee DIRDC Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and

Cities

DRS Domestic Response Service

DRV Domestic Response Vehicle

DSUs Distress signal units

EGM Executive General Manager

EVTs Emergency Vehicle Technicians

F3 Fluorine Free Foam

FPAA Fire Protection Association Australia

FRNSW Fire and Rescue NSW

ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization

Legislation committee Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee MFS Metropolitan Fire Services

MOS Manual of Standards

MTOW Maximum take-off weight

NFPA National Fire Protection Association

NOTAM Notice to Airmen

NSWRFS New South Wales Rural Fire Service

OEM Office of Emergency Management (New South Wales)

OM Operations Manual

PFAS Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances

PIR Post-implementation review

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QFES Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Review 2015 Regulatory Policy Review

SAMFS South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service

SARPs Standards and Recommended Practices

SCARD Safety Case Assessment and Reporting Determination SMS Safety Management System

TRA Task Resource Analysis

UFUA United Firefighters Union of Australia

UFUAB United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch

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Chapter 1

Introduction and background

Referral 1.1 On 5 December 2018, the following matters were referred to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by the second sitting day in August 2019:

1.2 The provision of rescue, firefighting and emergency response at Australian airports, with particular reference to:

(a) the current standards applicable to the provision of aerodrome rescue and firefighting services relating to community safety and the emergency personnel safety;

(b) the standards for the provision of emergency response at Australian airports, including emergency medical response and response to structure fires and other incidents;

(c) the comparison of safe systems of emergency response standards and systems of work for firefighting and rescue operations for structure fires, aircraft rescue, emergency medical response and other emergency incidents;

(d) the consideration of best practice, including relevant international standards; (e) the mechanisms and criteria for the review of the provisions of safety standards for the provision of rescue and firefighting services, if any; (f) a review of Airservices Australia policy and administration of aviation

rescue and firefighting services; (g) the effectiveness and independence of the regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), to uphold aviation rescue and firefighting safety

standards; (h) the impact on Australia’s national and international reputation and aviation safety record as a result of any lowering of aviation rescue and

firefighting services; and (i) any other related matters.1

1.3 The inquiry lapsed with the ending of the 45th Parliament. On 23 July 2019, the Senate of the 46th Parliament agreed to re-refer the inquiry to the committee, for report by 5 December 2019.2

1 Journals of the Senate, No. 136, 5 December 2018, p. 4439.

2 Journals of the Senate, No. 5, 23 July 2019, p. 187-188.

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Conduct of the inquiry 1.4 Information about the inquiry was made available on the committee's webpage. During the 45th Parliament, the committee also wrote to aviation stakeholders, state emergency service organisations and other interested

groups to invite submissions. Details regarding the inquiry and associated documents are available on the committee's webpage.

1.5 The committee received 25 public submissions which are listed at Appendix 1. Public submissions to the inquiry are also published on the committee webpage.3

1.6 The committee held a number of public hearings in relation to the inquiry during the 45th Parliament, as follows:

 Melbourne, Victoria, on 14 March 2019;  Adelaide, South Australia, on 20 March 2019; and  Brisbane Airport, Queensland, on 16 April 2019.

1.7 A list of witnesses who appeared at these hearings is at Appendix 2.

Acknowledgements 1.8 The committee thanks all individuals and organisations that participated in the inquiry, by making submissions and giving evidence at public hearings.

Structure of the report 1.9 This chapter provides a brief overview of Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services (ARFFS).

1.10 The second chapter details the international and Australian standards and regulations in place which determine how aviation rescue services should be implemented at aerodromes across Australia.

1.11 Chapter 3 examines the suitability of firefighting equipment and resources at ARFFS stations, and considers the concerns raised about the location of the new fire station, built to service the new Brisbane Airport runway.

1.12 Chapter 4 highlights the concerns of stakeholders regarding the level of staffing provided at ARFFS fire stations, including issues that may arise with the redeployment of crews to non-regulated emergency responses.

1.13 The fifth chapter highlights the division of responsibilities between the ARFFS and state and territory fire services. It highlights the concerns raised about the allocation of aviation rescue services to non-regulated emergency responses.

3 See:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_ Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Aviationrescueservices45

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1.14 Chapter 6 details the use of task resource analyses to determine the adequate resourcing of aviation firefighting stations. It also considers a number of reviews which have been undertaken into the regulatory framework for aviation and rescue firefighting, and presents overall views as to the adequacy of the provision of ARFFS by Airservices Australia.

1.15 Chapter 7 presents the committee's views and recommendations.

What are Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services? 1.16 Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) is a unique branch of firefighting, requiring specialised equipment and specialist skills and training to properly fulfil its role of optimising the chances of survival of passengers and crew in

the event of an aircraft accident.4

1.17 International standards developed for the provision of ARFF services (discussed further in Chapter 2) were developed based on the following parameters:

 about 70 per cent of aircraft crashes occur on aerodromes;  of those that occur on aerodromes, 90 per cent are survivable;  people on board a major aircraft involved in a fire can survive up to four minutes; and

 intervention of an ARFF service within that four minutes can extend that time limit, allowing people on board to be rescued.5

1.18 The United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFUA) further observed that approximately 38 per cent of airline accidents that result in fatal injury occur on or near the ground, whilst an aircraft is parked, being towed or during taxiing, take-off and landing.6

1.19 ARFF responds to such aircraft and airport emergencies. An ARFFS at an Australian aerodrome is responsible for:

 rescuing persons and property from an aircraft that has crashed or caught fire during landing or take-off; and  controlling and extinguishing, and protecting persons and property threatened by, a fire on an aerodrome, whether or not in an aircraft.7

1.20 The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (DIRDC8) stated that the primary function of the ARFFS is to:

4 See for example: United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 3; Australian Airline Pilots' Association, Submission 21, p. 2.

5 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services, Regional Aviation and Island Transport Services: Making Ends Meet, November 2003, p. 155.

6 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 3.

7 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 1.

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…rescue people from an aircraft that has crashed or caught fire during landing or take-off on or in the vicinity of an aerodrome and to control and extinguish fires relating to aviation activities on the airport site.9

1.21 It was put to the committee that the Australian ARFF service is considered one of the world's largest, with more than 900 operational and support personnel charged with responding to the broad range of aviation and airport emergencies which may occur on an aerodrome.10

1.22 Airservices Australia (Airservices) provides ARFF services at 26 Australian airports. In 2017-18, ARFFS responded to nearly 6800 emergencies, and saved 17 lives.11

1.23 Fire stations at the busiest Australian airports are equipped to provide a 24-hour ARFF service, with the largest ARFF stations located at Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. The hours of operation at smaller airports are determined by commercial passenger aircraft flight schedules.12

1.24 The ARFFS stations located across Australia are listed in Table 1.1 below.13

Table 1.1 Aviation rescue firefighting service locations in Australia

Jurisdiction Location

Australian Capital Territory Canberra

New South Wales Sydney, Ballina, Coffs Harbour

Northern Territory Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Darwin

Queensland Brisbane, Cairns, Gladstone, Gold

Coast, Hamilton Island, Mackay, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Townsville

South Australia Adelaide

8 Since making its submission, the Department has been renamed the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

9 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 2.

10 Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, Submission 3, p. 3.

11 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 3. A 27th ARFFS is currently being established at Whitsunday Coast Airport, to commence operations in 2020; see Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 3.

12 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 3.

13 In addition, the Norfolk Island Administration provides ARFF services at the Norfolk Island International Airport, and the Department of Defence provides ARFF services at the Royal Australian Airforce Base Williamtown (Newcastle Airport); see Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 5.

5

Tasmania Hobart, Launceston

Victoria Avalon, Melbourne

Western Australia Broome, Karratha, Newman, Perth,

Port Hedland

Source: Airservices Australia, Aviation rescue fire fighting, 24 April 2018,

http://www.airservicesaustralia.com /about/our-facilities/aviation-rescue-fire-fighting (accessed 11 December 2018).

1.25 In its provision of firefighting services, the ARFFS must respond to an aircraft incident at either end of a runway within three minutes of the initial call alerting it to the emergency, and be able to apply firefighting agent (namely water and foam) at 50 per cent of a pre-determined maximum discharge rate. Further, the ARFFS must be able to respond to any part of the airport movement area within three minutes.14

1.26 Airservices provides ARFFS in accordance with the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASRs). The provision of ARFFS requires investment by Airservices in buildings, vehicles, technical equipment, personnel and the development and implementation of operations manuals and a safety management system at each location.15

1.27 Airservices owns, operates and maintains a fleet of over 120 specialised, high performance ARFFS vehicles, aerial rescue vehicles, water rescue boats, difficult terrain vehicles and domestic response vehicles. Airservices advised that this allows for responses to a broad range of emergencies, including aircraft incidents, water rescue responses, fire alarm activations and structural fires, medical assistance requests and hazardous material incidents.16

1.28 According to DIRDC, additional services are performed by Airservices, via ARFFS, but these must not prevent ARFFS from performing its core functions. DIRDC advised that the additional services include:

…emergency first aid, alarm monitoring, building certification, and assisting other fire and police services under mutual aid arrangements. Airservices is not required to provide these additional services, and they must not impede on Airservices’ capacity to perform its core ARFFS function and maintain its required ARFFS category without compromise. The [Air Services Act 1995] specifies that in performing its functions,

14 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 3; Airservices Australia, About our aviation fire service,

8 August 2018, http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/services/about-our-aviation-fire-service/ (accessed 11 December 2018).

15 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 9.

16 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 3.

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Airservices must regard the safety of air navigation as the most important consideration.17

1.29 Under the CASR, there is nothing to prevent an ARFFS provider from an aerodrome performing fire control or rescue services elsewhere than on the aerodrome, but the provider must give priority to its main responsibilities of rescuing persons and property, and controlling aircraft and aerodrome fires.18

17 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 10.

18 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 1.

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Chapter 2

International and Australian regulatory framework for ARFFS

2.1 The provision of ARFFS in Australia is governed by a number of international standards and local regulatory frameworks. This chapter outlines these standards and frameworks.

2.2 Within these frameworks the particulars of ARFF service delivery are detailed, including safety standards; establishment (and disestablishment) thresholds for the founding of an ARFF service at an airport; the determination of airport categories; and the allocation of firefighting staff to each airport.

2.3 This chapter considers these various elements and how ARFFS is provided in Australia.

International obligations and standards 2.4 The Convention on International Civil Aviation 1944, known as the Chicago Convention, established airspace rules, including in relation to safety, and the air travel rights of those states which are signatories to the Convention. The

Convention also established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which—among other things—works with member states to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), and other policies supporting safety in civil aviation.1

2.5 Australia, as a signatory to the Chicago Convention, generally adopts the ICAO SARPs, including those in relation to ARFF services which are formalised in Chapter 9 of Annex 14 to the Convention.

2.6 Chapter 9 of Annex 14 contains an introductory note, detailing the primary objectives of ARFF services as:

…to save lives in the event of an aircraft accident or incident occurring at, or in the immediate vicinity of, an aerodrome. The rescue and fire fighting service is provided to create and maintain survivable conditions, to provide egress routes for occupants and to initiate the rescue of those occupants unable to make their escape without direct aid. The rescue may require the use of equipment and personnel other than those assessed primarily for rescue and fire fighting purposes.

The most important factors being an effective rescue in a survivable aircraft accident are: the training received, the effectiveness of the

1 International Civil Aviation Organization, About ICAO, https://www.icao.int/about-icao/Pages/default.aspx (accessed 17 June 2019).

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equipment and the speed with which personnel and equipment designated for rescue and fire fighting purposes can be put into use.2

2.7 DIRDC explained that the ARFFS SARPs require that rescue and firefighting equipment and services be provided at all international aerodromes. Further, the SARPs include:

 the level of protection required;  the provision of extinguishing agents, rescue equipment and personnel; and  a response time to the emergency not exceeding three minutes.3

2.8 The ICAO SARPs also detail the level of resourcing required for an ARFF service. ICAO recommends the use of a Task Resource Analysis (TRA) to determine the resourcing needs for an ARFFS. The TRA should 'establish justification as to the minimum number of qualified/competent personnel required to deliver' an effective ARFF service. ICAO goes on to state that:

A task analysis should primarily consist of a qualitative analysis of the RFFS response to a realistic, worst-case, aircraft accident scenario. The purpose should be to review the current and future staffing levels of the RFFS deployed at the aerodrome. The qualitative analysis could be supported by a quantitative risk assessment to estimate the reduction in risk. This risk assessment could be related to the reduction in risk to passengers and aircrew from deploying additional personnel. One of the most important elements is to assess the impact of any critical tasks or pinch points identified by the qualitative analysis.4

2.9 According to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), the ICAO resourcing model, applied at each ARFFS location:

…focusses on a balance between available resources and the risks associated with an aircraft accident rather than exclusively on the availability of certain resources.5

2.10 The ICAO framework also provides guidance on the implementation of Annex 14. Each member state's civil aviation authority is then responsible for publishing regulations which correspond with Annex 14 (in Australia, the CASRs), along with guidance for service providers (in Australia, Airservices).6

2 Chapter 9.2 (Rescue and fire fighting), Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, as cited in Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 3.

3 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 3.

4 International Civil Aviation Organization, Doc 9137-AN/898: Airport Services Manual, Part 1— Rescue and Firefighting, Fourth Edition, 2015, p. 10-3.

5 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, pp. 2-3.

6 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 5.

9

2.11 The legislation governing Airservices acknowledges that the Australian ARFFS derives from an international framework. Under section 9 of the Air Services Act 1995, Airservices must:

…perform its functions in a manner that is consistent with Australia's obligations under:

(a) the Chicago Convention; and (b) any other agreement between Australia and any other

country or countries relating to the safety of air navigation.7

Lodged differences with ICAO 2.12 There was some commentary throughout the inquiry as to the binding nature of the ICAO SARPs, and the adherence of Australian ARFF services to these international standards.

2.13 While the ICAO SARPs govern the provision of ARFFS, Airservices commented that each ARFFS provider needed to consider its local operating context and regulatory framework, to ensure services met the required standards.8

2.14 This view was supported by DIRDC, which observed that many countries had legislation differing from the ICAO SARPs, and had different criteria used to determine the establishment of ARFF services. DIRDC concluded that there was 'no common approach adopted overseas in the provision of ARFFS'.9

2.15 The UFUA suggested that while the SARPs were published as Annexes to the Convention, they did not have the same legal binding force as the Convention itself—the Annexes were not international treaties. Further, the UFUA observed that:

…member states only agree to undertake to collaborate in securing uniformity regarding the SARPs. That agreement does not necessarily extend to complying with them. This is confirmed in Article 38, where each member state may notify ICAO of any differences between SARPs and its own practices.10

2.16 To this end, in circumstances where Australia does not adopt ICAO standards, it formally lodges a difference with ICAO. DIRDC advised that ICAO standards were not adopted in Australia if they were not considered suitable for local circumstances.11

7 Air Services Act 1995, s. 9(3).

8 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 6.

9 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 3.

10 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 4.

11 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 2.

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2.17 DIRDC pointed out that while the CASR broadly aligns with ICAO SARPs, there are some differences to ARFFS delivery in Australia, notably that ARFFS is not provided at all international aerodromes:

In this regard, Australia has lodged a difference with ICAO stating that ARFFS, in compliance with Annex Standards, are not available at some international and alternate international aerodromes and outlines the establishment criteria adopted by Australia.12

2.18 DIRDC noted that the ICAO standard requiring ARFF services at all international passenger airports is problematic in the Australian context, due to low passenger volumes and flight frequencies. These conditions are 'not conducive to providing a cost effective and permanent ARFFS capability' at such airports. DIRDC did observe, however, that some ARFF services at Australian airports exceed ICAO requirements.13

2.19 Those airports in Australia which do not have ARFF services provided by Airservices receive firefighting services from the relevant state or territory fire authority.14

Provision of ARFF services in Australia 2.20 The two main services provided by Airservices are air traffic control, and ARFFS. The Air Services Act 1995 stipulates that Airservices will provide a rescue and firefighting service 'with the specific functions and other associated

elements of the service described in the Airservices regulations'.15

2.21 The functions of ARFF services are specified in Subpart 139.H of the CASR ('Aerodrome rescue and firefighting services'), which details how a person can become approved as an ARFFS provider, and the operating and technical standards applicable to such a service.16 The CASRs are accompanied by an associated Manual of Standards (MOS), which commenced in 2003. The MOS is a CASA policy manual, and is a legislative instrument.17

2.22 CASA has regulatory oversight of Airservices, given Airservices is an ARFFS provider. As part of the CASRs, an ARFFS provider must have an appropriate

12 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 5.

13 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 3.

14 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 3. This is discussed further in Chapter 5.

15 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 10.

16 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, pp. 1-2.

17 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 3; MOS Part 139.H—Standards Applicable to the Provision of Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, Version 1.2, January 2005,

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2008C00128 (accessed 20 June 2019).

11

organisational structure with 'sound and effective management in relation to the provision of an ARFFS'. CASA regulates only those matters relating to safety, and does not regulate Airservices's corporate administration of the ARFFS.18

2.23 DIRDC plays a lead role in the management of ARFFS regulatory policy, while working with CASA and Airservices to monitor ARFFS delivery, in order to determine whether regulatory amendments are required. The Department noted that a number of views have been expressed 'over what should be the right regulatory and policy framework for ARFFS', particularly with regard to the establishment and scope of activities of ARFF services at different aerodromes.19

ARFFS establishment and disestablishment thresholds 2.24 ARFFS must be provided at aerodromes providing international flight services. Additionally, in Australia, a decision whether to establish—or disestablish—an ARFF service at an airport can be determined by the number

of passengers travelling through that airport.

2.25 Until 2002, the provision of ARFFS by Airservices was to those airports which cumulatively accounted for approximately 90 per cent of all domestic passenger travellers on scheduled passenger services, over a one-year period.20

2.26 When the CASRs were introduced in 2002, there was no change made to these arrangements. DIRDC observed that at that time, the 90 per cent coverage equated to approximately 350 000 passengers per year (based on 2000-01 financial year data). Accordingly, under the CASR, '350 000 passengers per year was adopted as the trigger for requiring the establishment of an ARFFS'. Based on 2017-18 passenger movements, DIRDC suggested that the threshold now captured 96 per cent of passengers.21

2.27 Conversely, passenger numbers can also be used to disestablish an ARFF service. Should passenger numbers for an airport fall below 300 000, and remain below this level for a 12-month period, the ARFFS provider must provide CASA with a safety case to justify the closure of the ARFFS. DIRDC

18 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 2. It was suggested by the New South Wales Government Office of Emergency Management that the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council, rather than CASA, would be an appropriate national body to assess aviation fire-related standards; see Submission 4, [p. 2].

19 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 2.

20 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 4.

21 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 4.

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advised that, to date, no ARFF services had been disestablished due to passenger numbers falling below the threshold.22

2.28 Mr Rob Walker, Executive Manager of Stakeholder Engagement at CASA, observed that the disestablishment of an ARFF service 'would be contentious, particularly for the communities that are involved'. The matter was further complicated by the 'ebb and flow of the local Australian aviation industry' (for example, fluctuating tourist numbers or the varying schedules of fly-in fly-out workers).23

2.29 Mr Walker further noted that while the ARFFS in Australia covered the majority of passenger movements at airports, some passengers travelled through airports which do not have ARFF services. Mr Walker noted that the establishment of an ARFF service was:

…very much a balancing act between making sure that an appropriate level of services is provided but that it's also done in a cost-effective way.24

Aerodrome categories 2.30 Once an ARFF service has been established, each aerodrome is placed into a category, determined by the type of aircraft which operates at the airport. An airport category determines the standard of ARFF services required at that

aerodrome.

2.31 As noted by the UFUA, categories enable ARFF services and equipment to be assigned appropriately to each aerodrome, as determined by either the length or maximum fuselage width of the largest aircraft using the airport, whichever is greater. The UFUA remarked that wider aircraft may carry more fuel and passengers than narrower aircraft, and therefore require a higher category rating to best respond to emergencies.25

2.32 ICAO, via Annex 14, stipulates the criteria for determining ARFF categories.26 DIRDC advised that in an Australian context, aerodrome categories are determined against the ICAO criteria based on the busiest consecutive three-month period of the previous twelve months, and identifying the largest aircraft over 700 movements. Examples of the types of aircraft for each category include:

(a) Category 6 - Airbus A320, Embraer 190 (b) Category 7 - Boeing 737-900ER

22 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, pp. 4-5.

23 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 24.

24 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 23.

25 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 4.

26 As reproduced by United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 4.

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(c) Category 9 - Boeing 747-400, Airbus A350-900 (d) Category 10 - Boeing 747-8, Airbus A380.27

2.33 DIRDC further noted that, in accordance with ICAO standards, the category at an aerodrome could be reduced, or dropped during:

…periods of reduced activity (for example night operations), to no less than that needed for the highest category of aircraft planned to use the aerodrome during that time.28

2.34 The CASRs stipulate the minimum number of fire vehicles and the quantity of extinguishing agent (water and dry chemical powder) to be carried against each aerodrome category. Additionally, the minimum number of staff per shift is developed by Airservices and approved by CASA, for each category level.29

2.35 In addition, the United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (UFUAB) noted that ICAO provides for a 'remission factor', which is an allowance for an ARFFS provider to knowingly operate at a category below the largest aircrafts using that airport. The remission factor is based on the reasoning that:

…if the airport does not meet a minimum of 700 movements of that largest aircraft in the 3 busiest months of operation then it can reduce category based on the reduced exposure risks.30

2.36 DIRDC advised that, in line with Annex 14 of the Chicago Convention, the standard of ARFFS required at Australian aerodromes—and the associated airport categories—have been adopted in Subpart 139.H of the CASR, and the associated MOS.31

2.37 Categories at the 26 Australian airports which provide ARFF services range from Category 6 to Category 10, as determined by CASA and ICAO regulations. During the curfew period at Adelaide Airport, that airport is classified as Category 5. Categories determine the amount of water and foam that is needed to be carried, the response times, water discharge rates and number of personnel. Some of these determinations are summarised below in Table 2.1.

27 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, pp. 6, 12 (Attachment B).

28 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 6.

29 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 4.

30 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 23. The UFUAB contended that remission was currently being implemented at the Darwin, Coolangatta and Cairns Airports, which were staffed to Category 8 but regularly receiving Category 9 aircraft; see Submission 17, p. 23.

31 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 6.

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Table 2.1 ARFFS airport categories and level of service

Category 6 Category 7 Category 8 Category 9 Category 10

Airports Ayers Rock

Ballina Broome Coffs Harbour Gladstone Karratha Newman Port Hedland Rockhampton

Alice Springs Hamilton Is Hobart Launceston Mackay Sunshine Coast Townsville

Avalon Cairns Canberra Darwin Gold Coast

Adelaide Brisbane Perth

Melbourne Sydney

Water (litres) 7900 12 100 18 200 24 30032 32 300

Discharge rate (foam/litres per min)

4000 5300 7200 9000 11 200

Dry Chemical Powder (kgs) 225 225 450 450 450

Source: Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 12 (Attachment B) and Airservices Australia, 'ARFF levels of service',

http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/services/about-our-aviation-fire-service/arff-levels-of-service/ (accessed 20 June 2019).

2.38 The UFUA advised that the required quantities of extinguishing agent must be available for discharge from operational fire vehicles within a response time of two minutes to the end of each runway, or not exceeding three minutes to any part of the movement area.33

Staffing requirements 2.39 In addition to determining the level of service required, the airport categories also determine the minimum requirements with regard to staff and fire vehicles per shift. The minimum number of staff per shift is developed by

Airservices, and approved by CASA, against each category. Table 2.2 below details the staff per shift, and the fire vehicles required per category.

32 Mr Glen Barker submitted that, in 2015, ICAO raised the required water amount from 24 000 litres to 27 859 litres; however, under the MOS and CASRs, Australia maintained the original level of 24 000 litres; see Submission 22, p. 10.

33 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 4.

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Table 2.2 Minimum staffing requirements by airport category

Category Staff per shift Fire vehicles Typical aircraft type

10 14 3 A380

9 10 3 B747

8 8 3 A330-2

7 6 2 B737-8

6 5 2 A320

5 3 1 ATR72

Source: Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 4.

2.41 The UFUA clarified that the minimum number of ARFF personnel required to effectively and safely respond to an incident at an airport depends on the size of the aircraft utilising the airport. However, ICAO does not specifically mandate the number of firefighters required, 'other than what is implied with the number of vehicles' and the ability to operate those firefighting vehicles at maximum capacity.34

2.42 Airservices advised that while the CASA-approved number of firefighters for a Category 10 airport was 14, at Sydney and Melbourne Airports, Airservices chose to provide 'three supplementary people to help us maintain categories'.35 These two airports were therefore staffed with 17 ARFFS crew members.

Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 2.43 CASA was tasked with developing the CASRs, under the Civil Aviation Act 1988, to ensure compliance with the ICAO SARPs.36 CASR Subpart 139.H outlines the functions of the ARFFS. An introductory paragraph to Subpart

139.H outlines the purpose of the subpart for the provision of ARFFS in Australia:

As a signatory to the Chicago Convention, Australia is obliged to require, as part of its domestic law, that certain classes of airport provide rescue and firefighting services of an adequate standard. (See generally section 9.2 of chapter 9 of Annex 14 to the Chicago Convention.) To satisfy that obligation, this Subpart requires operators of aerodromes that have scheduled international traffic, or specified levels of domestic passenger

34 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 8.

35 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 40.

36 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 3.

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traffic, to provide those services, and sets out the standards that apply to such services.37

2.44 Specifically, Regulation 139.710 of Subpart 139.H of the CASR states that:

(1) The functions of an ARFFS for an aerodrome are:

(a) to rescue persons and property from an aircraft that has crashed or caught fire during landing or take-off; and (b) to control and extinguish, and to protect persons and property threatened by, a fire on the aerodrome, whether or

not in an aircraft.

(2) Nothing in subregulation (1) prevents the ARFFS provider for an aerodrome from performing fire control services or rescue services elsewhere than on an aerodrome, but the provider must give priority to operations mentioned in subregulation (1).38

2.45 Airservices advised that the CASRs and the MOS operate so that ARFFS must be provided at aerodromes:

 from or to which an international passenger air service operates; and  any other aerodrome where the number of passenger movements has reached 350 000 in the previous financial year.39

2.46 DIRDC noted that at some locations, CASA has granted exemptions from certain operational requirements that would normal apply due to the ICAO SARPs.40

Airservices, the CASRs and the MOS 2.47 Airservices advised that Subpart 139.H of the CASR, and the MOS reflect ICAO standards, but that the ARFFS also complies with other relevant legislation such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (and supporting

regulations), and the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012.41

37 Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, Subpart 139.H—Aerodrome rescue and firefighting services, introductory note.

38 Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, Part 139, Subpart 139.H, section 139.710; see Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, pp. 1-2.

39 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 4.

40 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 3.

41 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 7.

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2.48 Airservices noted, however, that it could set its own standards over and above the CASR requirements, if considered necessary for service provision or 'the safety of our people'.42

2.49 DIRDC explained that the MOS provided detailed requirements for the provision of ARFFS, including:

 ARFFS vehicle performance;  response times;  hours of operation;  competency level of firefighting staff;  staffing and training requirements; and  ARFFS qualification training establishments.43

2.50 The CASRs and the MOS also require airport operators to prepare aerodrome emergency plans, detailing the activation, control and coordination of emergency service organisations for airport emergencies.44

2.51 Importantly, under Regulation 139.760 of the CASR, if there are inconsistencies between a requirement of the MOS and a particular aerodrome, and a requirement of Chapter 9 of Annex 14 of the Chicago Convention, 'the requirement of the Manual prevails to the extent of the inconsistency'.45

2.52 This position is reiterated in the MOS itself, which, at section 1.1.1.2, notes that the MOS prevails where there are any discrepancies between it and the prescribed standards in the ICAO SARPs.46

2.53 Further, the CASR, at Subpart 11.F, provides that CASA can, by instrument, grant an exemption from compliance with a provision of the CASR, and may impose any condition on that exemption which is 'necessary in the interests of the safety of air navigation'. CASA can grant an exemption either on application, or on its own initiative; granted exemptions are then published on CASA's website.47

2.54 In addition to the CASR and MOS, Airservices has also developed a safety management system (SMS). The SMS provides a framework for managing

42 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 10.

43 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 6.

44 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 9.

45 Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, Part 139, Subpart 139.H, section 139.760.

46 Section 1.1.1.2, MOS Part 139.H—Standards Applicable to the Provision of Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, Version 1.2, January 2005, p. 1-1.

47 Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, Subpart 11.F, sections 11.160 and 11.205. CASA exemptions

are listed at: https://www.casa.gov.au/rules-and-regulations/current-rules/legislative-and-non-legislative-instruments/non-legislative-instruments.

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safety in accordance with legislation, regulations and standards, such as the CASRs, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation Standard of Excellence in SMS. Airservices advised that it monitored its performance against the regulatory safety standards, and engaged with CASA to consider the effectiveness of the regulations.48

2.55 Airservices manages risk in the provision of ARFF services through its Risk Management Standard. Airservices suggested that the purpose of ARFFS risk management was to 'actively identify, assess, control and manage hazards', to ensure that risk was managed to a level that was as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).49

2.56 Under the CASR, Airservices is also required to document in an Operations Manual (OM) how it complies with the mandatory safety standards of the CASRs and the MOS. The OM, approved by CASA, 'comprehensively describes the key elements' of ARFFS service delivery. Airservices detailed those key elements of the OM, which included:

the level of service (Category) provided, number of operating personnel, the performance of fire fighting vehicles (including response times), equipment and fire fighting agent, training and qualifications frameworks and programs, required buildings and facilities, protective clothing and equipment, operational doctrine including standard operating procedures and contingency plans, the requirements to maintain service including the process to advise industry should the level of service be temporarily reduced (such as when ARFFS is responding to an emergency), the interface arrangements with other fire fighting services, safety management systems (SMS) and quality control systems.50

Safety standards for ARFFS 2.57 CASA's regulatory responsibilities for ARFFS includes the initial approval of the ARFFS at a location (certification), and undertaking surveillance of the provision of ARFFS at each location. The frequency of CASA’s surveillance is

based on the category of ARFFS.51

2.58 CASA informed the committee that the safety standards in the legislation governing the provision of ARFFS were based on, or informed by, a number of factors, including:

48 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, pp. 8, 10. DIRDC advised that the SMS defines the policies, procedures and practices for managing the safety of the provision of services, and any changes in their provision; see Submission 9, p. 10.

49 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 8.

50 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, pp. 7-8.

51 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 10.

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…internationally recognised standards and recommended practices (SARPs) specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization, published Australian Standards and the United States' National Fire Protection Association standards.52

2.59 CASA advised that it undertakes a number of activities to determine whether the legislation governing the provision of ARFFS requires amendment. CASA uses planned surveillance events and audits, as well as post implementation reviews of regulations, to identify any deficiencies in current practices which could be addressed by legislative change. For example, CASA advised that as part of a post implementation review of Subpart 139.H, it was reviewing the ARFFS standards as they applied in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.53

2.60 Airservices reported that since 1 January 2016, CASA has conducted 102 surveillance events of ARFFS facilities and operations. CASA surveillance included audits, operational checks involving system testing and examination, product sampling, and the gathering of evidence, data, information and intelligence.54

2.61 CASA advised that it takes a risk-based approach to the assessment of ARFFS operations. In doing so, these assessments:

…focus on the effectiveness of an authorisation holder's management of its systems and risks and enable targeted surveillance of high-risk areas of an authorisations holder's systems. It also provides a basis on which CASA can evaluate all the regulated activities conducted by an authorisation holder to help ensure they are as safe as reasonably practicable.55

2.62 In undertaking its oversight functions, CASA informed the committee that it considers the views and concerns of DIRDC, ARFFS providers and 'other industry and community stakeholders in the consideration of relevant regulatory matters'. Further, in developing ARFFS standards, CASA noted that it consults and engages with all relevant stakeholders.56

2.63 In the event that Airservices makes changes to its provision of ARFFS, CASA assesses such changes through a review and approval of safety case information, 'having regard to the provider's standard operating procedures'.

52 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 1.

53 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 2.

54 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 11.

55 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 2.

56 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 2.

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CASA also utilises independent reviews which consider changes to Airservices's procedures and practices, where available.57

National Fire Protection Association 2.64 Considerable evidence was received during the inquiry from firefighting unions regarding the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which the unions and other stakeholders view as an industry leader in developing

firefighting standards.

2.65 The NFPA, a global non-profit organisation, aims to 'eliminate death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire' and other related hazards, through more than 300 consensus codes and standards aimed at minimising the risks and effects of fire.58 The UFUA observed that the NFPA's codes and standards are 'generally recognised as a major source of firefighting best practice by industry professionals'.59

2.66 The NFPA 403 standard, titled 'Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-fighting Services at Airports', contains standards for the operation of the ARFFS, including the minimum number of vehicles and personnel required by airport category.60

Funding of ARFF services 2.67 Airservices noted that the cost of providing ARFFS is determined by the category of service, and an airport's hours of operation. ARFFS charges depended on the category of the aircraft, with more firefighters, vehicles and

infrastructure required for higher-category aircraft. Airservices advised that charges were applied in accordance with the following:

 for aircraft up to Category 6: a single network charge applying at all locations where and when an ARFFS is provided; and  for aircraft at Category 7 and above: a location-specific, category-based charge, 'recognising the incremental increase in costs associated with each

higher category of service'.61

2.68 In line with international practice, the costs of providing the ARFFS are recovered through a landing charge, paid by airlines, based on the maximum

57 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 2.

58 National Fire Protection Association, NFPA overview, https://www.nfpa.org/overview (accessed 20 June 2019).

59 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 9.

60 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 9.

61 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 6.

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take-off weight (MTOW) of an aircraft. Airservices observed that prices therefore vary by airport, based on the category of the aircraft flown.62

2.69 Airservices went on to state that for a Category 6 aerodrome, it costs approximately $4.5 million per annum to provide base level ARFF services, with the annual cost rising to $19 million for Category 10 ARFFS. Given that some regional locations recover less than 10 per cent of the costs of ARFFS, the costs at these locations were cross-subsidised by capital city airports with higher levels of traffic and larger aircraft.63

2.70 DIRDC confirmed that the charges imposed by Airservices for the provision of ARFF services is subject to regulatory oversight by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with current charges forecast to remain at 2016 levels 'for the foreseeable future'.64

2.71 It was suggested by the UFUA that the current ARFF funding arrangement had prompted resistance to the establishment of ARFF services by airline companies, thus limiting the expansion of ARFFS to more airports due to cost, over considerations of safety. As an alternative funding model, the UFUA proposed the introduction of a passenger charge, imposed on all air passengers, to fund and expand ARFF services 'in circumstances where there is insufficient funding from other sources'.65 The UFUAB suggested that this approach better recognised passengers as 'the real customer of ARFFS'.66

62 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 5. Airservices clarified that general aviation aircraft, such as the King Air B200, are not charged for ARFFS.

63 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 6. Before 1 January 2006, ARFFS was funded by location-specific pricing, which saw destinations with low volumes of airline activity incur high charges. It has been suggested that cross-subsidisation through the MTOW charge has therefore significantly reduced costs at regional and smaller airports; see Government Response to the Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services, Regional Aviation and Island Transport Services: Making Ends Meet, 10 May 2007, p. 26.

64 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 9.

65 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 17. These views were supported by Mr Glen Barker; see Submission 22, pp. 13-14.

66 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 34.

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Chapter 3

ARFFS equipment and resources

3.1 There were a number of serious concerns raised throughout the inquiry as to the performance of Airservices in its delivery of ARRFS across Australia's major airports.

3.2 In particular, concerns were raised with regard to the suitability of some ARFF equipment and resources currently in use across the country, and decisions of Airservices which would directly impact on the ability of the ARFFS to respond quickly to an emergency. Specific issues were raised about the location of the fire station at the new runway currently under construction at Brisbane Airport.

3.3 This chapter details these concerns alongside the views of Airservices as to its performance and decision-making.

Firefighting equipment and ARFFS facilities and training 3.4 Evidence to the inquiry questioned the suitability of certain firefighting equipment currently in use by the ARFFS, or removed from service, as determined by Airservices.

3.5 Concerns with equipment, the ARFF service regulations, firefighter training and ARFFS facilities were raised extensively in evidence. These concerns included (but were not limited to) the following:

 out of date and unsafe procedures for compressed air breathing apparatus (CABA), despite CABA procedures presenting 'more risk to firefighters than any other task';1

 radio communications over obsolete UHF radios, with no access to Government Radio Networks for communication;2  a lack of adequate and ongoing emergency vehicle driver training;3  a lack of suitable training and provision of equipment and suitable vehicles

for water rescue services (WRS) and difficult terrain operations (DTO);4

1 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 12; Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 6.

2 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 8, 13; Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 5.

3 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 13; Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 8.

4 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 15-16; Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 14.

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 the age and fitout of Mk8 and Mk9 ARFFS vehicles, and the adherence of ARFFS vehicles to international standards;5  operational fire hoses not being tested to Australian standards, with dispensations sought by Airservices from CASA to not comply with the

Australian standard;6  'impoverished', 'non-compliant and unsafe' fire stations, requiring expansion and replacement;7  the engagement of personnel without suitable qualifications and

competencies (particularly Local Operations Managers);8  reduced or inadequate training opportunities, with training led by officers with no operational ARFFS experience;9  concerns with the Airservices internal hazard and incident reporting system

(known as CIRRIS) and responses by Airservices to the safety issues raised through that system;10  diesel particulate matter contamination at fire stations across the country;11 and  mould outbreaks at the Brisbane ARFF station, exposing staff to mould

spores.12

3.6 A number of other concerns are considered in more detail below.

Distress signal units 3.7 The UFUAB voiced concerns over the adherence of ARFFS distress signal units (DSUs) to international safety standards and best practice. DSUs, worn by firefighters, emit visual and audio alarms when a device remains motionless

for 30 seconds, and are thus considered vital in ensuring the safety of

5 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 16-17; Mr John Hancox, Submission 25.1, [p. 2].

6 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 17-18; Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 7. At Additional Estimates in February 2019, Airservices advised that once it was identified that ARFFS was not complying with the Australian standard for hose testing, a directive was issued to all locations to move to the Australian standard as quickly as possible; see Mr GlennWood, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 18 February 2019, p. 201.

7 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 18.

8 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 19-20.

9 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 30; Mr John Hancox, Submission 25.1, [pp. 2-3].

10 Mr Tim Limmer, Submission 20, [p. 2]; Aviation Fire and Rescue Brisbane, Submission 23, [p. 1].

11 Mr Tim Limmer, Submission 20, [pp. 3-4].

12 Mr Tim Limmer, Submission 20, [pp. 5, 12-14].

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firefighters (the DSUs can also be operated manually if a firefighter is in distress, for example, trapped or injured).13

3.8 The UFUAB noted that, in accordance with the CASRs, ancillary equipment must conform to Australian standards. The UFUAB suggested, however, that as there were no Australian standards for the DSU, international standards applied, such as those issued by the NFPA. The UFUAB asserted that CASA had exempted Airservices from compliance with the relevant international standards, in order to continue with the use of outdated equipment (that is, Airservices had been issued a dispensation from CASA).14

3.9 The UFUAB argued that the DSUs currently in use by the ARFFS were older models, and therefore were not compliant with the NFPA. Further, the DSUs were using outdated technology when compared with more modern versions, and were only replaced in instances of failure—as opposed to adherence to a set replacement timeframe of five to seven years.15

3.10 In using older technology, the UFUAB argued that the DSUs did not have the 'modern improved safety features' which would help protect firefighters, and suggested that there was 'no evidence' that CASA had 'given any consideration to the improved safety benefits' of using new DSU technology. Further, the UFUAB contended that Airservices was purchasing replacement DSUs that did not adhere to the MOS or the NFPA standards.16

3.11 This view was supported by Mr Glen Barker, a recently retired Fire Commander, who suggested that through the dispensation from compliance issued by CASA, Airservices were not only aware of these issues with the DSUs, but had 'failed to seek an alternative DSU to comply with safety regulations'.17

Rescue saws 3.12 The MOS states that power saws must be included in ARFF services as ancillary equipment, for operational use.18

3.13 During Additional Estimates in February 2019, Airservices advised the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee (legislation

13 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 5.

14 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 5.

15 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 5-6. See also Mr Tim Limmer, Submission 20, [p. 4]; Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 4.

16 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 7.

17 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 4.

18 Section 13.1.1.3, MOS Part 139.H—Standards Applicable to the Provision of Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, Version 1.2, January 2005, p. 13-1.

26

committee) of its decision to remove rescue power saws from ARFFS operation.19

3.14 Mr Glenn Wood, Chief Fire Officer (CFO) with Airservices, advised that this decision was made as the rescue saws were out-of-date and not fit for purpose, presenting a 'significant safety hazard' to ARFFS crew. Mr Wood indicated that Airservices had examined its history, and 'could not see when we had ever used that piece of equipment', nor had the type of saw in question been used in the last 15 years. Mr Wood went on to advise that:

We have later generation—as you would know, jaws of life and that sort of equipment—that can do some of that work. They are not rescue saws; we know that. We've also got arrangements in place with the local fire service to bring their rescue saw. In terms of moving forward, we've completed some research. There is a more modern kit available. We've completed a concept of operations, and I expect we'll be approaching market in the next few weeks. The safety regulator is aware of the removal of that piece of equipment because of the safety risk it presents to our staff.20

3.15 Mr Wood confirmed that removal of the saws meant that the ARFFS was not compliant with the MOS. Airservices had advised CASA that the saw had been removed due to concerns for the safety of staff, and had undertaken to 'look at an alternative solution that is more fit for purpose'.21

3.16 CASA confirmed that it was a statutory requirement of the MOS that the ARFFS was equipped with a rescue saw. CASA informed the committee that it was voluntarily advised by Airservices about its rescue saw decision 'after that decision was made'. Mr Walker of CASA continued that as of March 2019, CASA was:

…still in consultation with Airservices on what the impacts of that are and whether or not it is safe for them to continue to [remove the saw from service].22

3.17 Mr Walker said that with regard to the actions of Airservices, 'CASA is not comfortable with the decision that they have made'. CASA was therefore continuing its discussions with Airservices, to understand why Airservices had taken the actions it had.23

19 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 18 February 2019, p. 197.

20 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 18 February 2019, p. 197.

21 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 18 February 2019, p. 198.

22 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 25.

23 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 26.

27

3.18 Mr Wood advised that the ARFFS was still equipped with instruments to make forcible entry onto an aircraft, and that the decision to remove the saws from service was due to the fact that they presented an unacceptable workplace health and safety risk, the risk being a loss of operator control. Once aware of the risk, Mr Wood argued that he had 'no choice' but to remove the saws from service or possibly end up in breach of workplace health and safety laws.24

3.19 Mr Wood acknowledged that CASA was not comfortable with the decision to remove the saws, however he argued that:

Workplace health and safety legislation is not optional; it is mandatory. I deemed from that that I had no choice but to take the action that I did.25

Stakeholder views 3.20 The UFUA noted that this decision was made despite the MOS requiring that power saws be part of the equipment required for operational use. The UFUA suggested that the power saws were removed from operation in

September 2018, despite no consultation taking place and no exemptions being granted from CASA. The union expressed considerable concern over the risks to passenger safety and survival as a result of the actions by Airservices.26

3.21 The UFUAB observed that, as Airservices did not have an exemption from CASA for the power saw requirement in the MOS, the ARFFS was non-compliant with the required standards. The UFUAB disputed the evidence of Airservices to the legislation committee, stating that the power saws which were in operation were relatively new and 'state of the art', and that the 'jaws of life' were not a suitable replacement for the power saw in an emergency. The UFUAB concluded that, without the saw:

…ARFFS have no ability to rapidly cut in to an aircraft, or structures for access or egress in order to perform rescues or to create ventilation holes or drainage. Loss of the saw is severely impacting our ability to safely do our job.27

3.22 Mr Justin Hunter, Branch Committee Member with the UFUAB, voiced his concerns about the removal of the rescue saws, and the inadequacy of substitute equipment. Mr Hunter noted that the 'jaws of life' and other equipment were not suited for entry into an aircraft, but rather to vehicle rescues, and concluded that the jaws of life could be used to 'remove seats and

24 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 36.

25 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 37.

26 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 13-14. See also Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, pp. 5-6.

27 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 9.

28

we can use them to do others things, but we can't get into the aircraft with them'.28

3.23 The UFUAB further asserted that the safety concerns held by Airservices over the saw had never been detailed to staff or union representatives, no replacement saw had been brought forward, and no consultation had yet taken place to identify suitable replacement equipment—although a working group was being established.29

Ladders 3.24 On 5 December 2018, an operational bulletin was issued by Airservices, stating that all ARFFS training on ladders over two metres high was banned, effective immediately, while a 90-day review was undertaken.30

3.25 Mr Wood elaborated on the decision to limit training on ladders, stating that due to the risk of a fall from height, Airservices had determined to 'restrict our firefighters from climbing up ladders greater than two metres'. Mr Wood went on to advise that ladders would still be used in an operational context (for example, during aircraft rescues). Mr Wood further suggested that the necessary skills could still be practised below two metres, while a working group was formed to look at an improved way forward, and whether that 'improved way includes harness systems and the like'.31

3.26 Ms Michelle Bennetts, then Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Airservices, was of the view that the greatest risk of injury to firefighters was during training, and therefore Airservices was 'constantly looking at ways we can reduce this risk while still building the skills and capabilities' of ARFFS firefighters. Ms Bennetts went on to suggest that 'the risk of putting people in danger in a training environment unnecessarily is simply unacceptable', and with regard to ladders concluded that:

…the actual skills that a firefighter requires to climb a ladder they can learn regardless of the height at which they are practising those skills.32

Stakeholder views 3.27 Mr Steve Horton, Industrial Officer with the UFUA, noted the confusion of the union over the ban, observing that 'there has never been an incident to our

28 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 9.

29 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 9.

30 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 10.

31 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 18 February 2019, pp. 198, 200.

32 Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, pp. 33, 37.

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knowledge on a ladder in 40 years', and concluded that the UFUA found the decision 'bizarre'.33

3.28 The UFUAB likewise raised its concerns over this ban, noting that many training activities demonstrating competent use of a ladder could no longer take place. However, the expectation remained that firefighters would use ladders in gaining access and conducting rescues during emergencies, and thus the ban 'increases the risk to the firefighters'.34

3.29 Mr Barker observed that in making the decision regarding the ladders, Airservices had not provided any alternative equipment on which to train, such as air stairs, nor were there any local agreements in place with airports or airlines for the use of their equipment—and even if there were, the ARFF staff were not trained in the use of equipment from other companies.35

3.30 In correspondence to the committee dated 2 April 2019, Airservices acknowledged the concerns expressed by the UFUA and ARFFS staff about the ARFFS equipment, and advised that a number of programs were underway which would address areas of key concern including:

 replacement of rescue saws;  improving safety for training at heights, including on ladders; and  improving the Breathing Apparatus Framework and training.36

3.31 Airservices confirmed that these initiatives included 'appropriate representation and input from the UFU and operational staff'.37

Firefighting foams 3.32 Some evidence to the inquiry drew attention to the ongoing issues around the use of fluorine-free firefighting foams in an aviation setting, and raised concerns with the adequacy of firefighting foams in use under Australian

conditions. It was suggested that while fluorine-free foams may be in use at Australia aerodromes, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) foams may be better suited to aviation fires.

3.33 Willson Consulting advised that Fluorine Free Foam (F3) was certified to ICAO fire test standards, as required by the MOS. Despite this, it was suggested that foams containing PFAS 'remain unrivalled in their speed and

33 Mr Steve Horton, United Firefighters Union of Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 15.

34 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 10.

35 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 6.

36 Mr Jason Harfield, Chief Executive Officer, Airservices Australia, correspondence received 2 April 2019.

37 Mr Jason Harfield, Chief Executive Officer, Airservices Australia, correspondence received 2 April 2019.

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effectiveness' when applied to volatile fuel fire incidents. Willson Consulting suggested that C6 fluorotelomer foams be used instead, as they:

…provide the fastest, effective and reliable fire protection to control and extinguish the fire quickly, minimising damage, reducing volumes of foam and water resources used.38

3.34 Willson Consulting acknowledged the concerns held about the health and environmental risks associated with fluorine-containing foams. However, the submission also noted that there were considerable benefits to using C6 foams:

The faster the fire is controlled and extinguished the smaller the incident, the less harm and damage is usually created, less risk of escalation or flare up, less danger to life safety and less adverse environmental damage usually results. Any realistic consideration of environmental impacts can only focus on the whole of incident from fire and environmental performances, not just firefighting foam properties in isolation.39

3.35 The UFUAB similarly noted its acceptance and agreement of a transition away from fluorine-containing foams, as a way to 'protect the environment and the health of our members' using such foams. However, the UFUAB continued that there was significant evidence creating concerns 'as to the real operational effectiveness of the primary firefighting agent in use for ARFFS' in Australia. The UFUAB therefore questioned whether the ARFFS was provided with enough quantities of this agent, particularly at Category 9 airports.40

3.36 The views expressed by the UFUAB were echoed by Willson Consulting, and by Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA), both of which noted that F3 should not be used in high risk applications, such as aerodrome rescue, and would be more appropriate for training and for smaller fires.41 The FPAA explained that F3 foams have 'significantly different physical and firefighting properties' to other foams, which could impact on safety outcomes.42

3.37 Willson Consulting went on to suggest that F3 foams may not be the best type to provide 'adequate life safety protection of firefighters, aircrew and the travelling public'. Indeed, Willson Consulting could not identify 'any major aircraft fire successfully and quickly extinguished' by F3. The submission questioned whether this foam had been:

…adequately tested at larger scale to address the major hazards of large Airbus A380 aircraft, increased passenger numbers and flight frequencies,

38 Willson Consulting, Submission 1, pp. 6, 8.

39 Willson Consulting, Submission 1, pp. 44-45.

40 United Firefighters Union of Australian Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 11.

41 Willson Consulting, Submission 1, pp. 2-3, 48; Fire Protection Association Australia, Submission 2, pp. 1, 3.

42 Mr Brendan Scully, Fire Protection Association Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 1.

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larger fuel loads, and increasingly volatile climatic conditions being experienced at airports around Australia.43

3.38 The FPAA also supported the use of C6 fluorotelomer foams in high risk applications, while drawing attention to issues with the testing and performance of firefighting foams under Australian conditions. The FPAA advised that ICAO sets the requirements for firefighting foam fire tests, including the provision that testing can occur 'with ambient air and foam solution temperatures as low as 15°C'. However, the FPAA noted that:

These temperatures are much lower than typically experienced in Australia, especially during summer. Foams which pass the ICAO tests at these minimum temperatures may not perform adequately at the higher temperatures typically experienced in Australia.44

3.39 The FPAA argued that any firefighting foam being considered for use on Australian aerodromes should be subjected to ICAO testing, but at 'much higher minimum temperatures' to better reflect the Australian climate.45 Mr Brett Staines of the FPAA noted the concerns held about foam performance in Australia in the absence of clear testing results:

The concern we have is that, with the foams we used to use, we had a high level of safety margin. What we're saying now is that the new foams don't have that same safety margin. Is the margin that we have sufficient to allow us to provide good fire protection under Australian conditions? We don't know.46

3.40 Willson Consulting made a similar point, and suggested testing parameters for the Australian context:

Fire test standards even if based on ICAO Level B for regulatory purposes, should also be tested to a higher standard which adequately reflects higher ambient conditions experienced around most of Australia. This could be done by requiring the ICAO Level B test to be independently witness tested on Jet A1 fuel at ambient and fuel temperatures of 35°C.47

3.41 DIRDC confirmed to the committee that the issue of testing firefighting foams would be a matter for CASA.48

43 Willson Consulting, Submission 1, pp. 2-3, 8, 19. See also Dynax Corporation, Submission 13, Attachment 1 for general views on the efficacy of firefighting foams.

44 Fire Protection Association Australia, Submission 2, pp. 2-3.

45 Fire Protection Association Australia, Submission 2, p. 3.

46 Mr Brett Staines, Fire Protection Association Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, pp. 4-5.

47 Willson Consulting, Submission 1, p. 48.

48 Ms Pip Spence, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 19.

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Vehicle shortages 3.42 The category of an airport determines the number of fire vehicles required at that airport (see Table 2.2 in Chapter 2). It was put to the committee that the ICAO standards stipulate that the ARFFS should have a spare vehicle, in order

to maintain category in the event of maintenance or repairs.49

3.43 Mr Robert Porter, Executive General Manager (EGM) of ARFFS, Airservices, advised that as of April 2019 there were 90 fire trucks in Australia, with an operational requirement for 67 vehicles in the ARFFS fleet. This capacity over the minimum allowed Airservices to 'maintain service for the existing fleet'. However, Mr Porter suggested that the standards do not stipulate that a spare vehicle was required; rather, that category needs to be maintained and advice given to airline pilots—via the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system—when category could not be maintained.50

3.44 The UFUAB, however, suggested that a 'serious shortage' of ARFFS firefighting vehicles around the country had led to an inability to maintain category when vehicles were out of service, and also reduced the amount of water or agent available at an incident.51 It was asserted that, in 2018, all spare vehicles had been removed from remote locations, and a vehicle sharing system between regional stations implemented by Airservices. The UFUAB voiced concerns over this approach, stating that:

These sharing arrangements for these fire stations present a substantial risk to the travelling public, in that these stations do not have the minimum requisite contingency to manage breakdowns and maintain a minimum standard of service delivery.52

3.45 By way of example, the UFUAB stated that one vehicle was shared between the Sunshine Coast, Gladstone and Rockhampton Airports, with a total distance of 543 kilometres between them. The UFUAB also raised concerns about a lack of emergency vehicle technicians (EVTs), noting that at least eight airports—including Coffs Harbour, Launceston and Alice Springs—did not have such technicians on site, which contributed to significant delays in 'returning stations to operational capability'.53

3.46 The UFUAB summarised its concerns with a lack of EVTs by saying:

49 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 23-24.

50 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 45-47.

51 The UFUAB advised that a spare vehicle provides an additional 9434 litres of agent at any one incident; see Submission 18, p. 8.

52 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Remote stations), Submission 18, p. 7.

53 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Remote stations), Submission 18, p. 8. See also United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 26.

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The danger of removing expert technicians from ARFFS is blatantly obvious to every operational ARFFS Fire Fighter who relies so heavily on the expertise of our EVT’s to keep our fire service operational and minimise down time. High tech ARFFS vehicles and equipment, need highly trained expert technicians to maintain them to their maximum potential and effectiveness.54

3.47 Further, without the benefit of a spare vehicle, the UFUAB took the view that the ARFFS would be without firefighting agent within six minutes. An incident response would thereafter be relying on the arrival of other (non-ARFFS) fire services.55

3.48 The UFUAB called for more ARFFS vehicles to be purchased as a matter of priority, alongside the reinstatement of spare vehicles at all locations and the engagement of more EVTs. The UFUAB argued that such actions would help to overcome any shortage of ARFFS operational vehicles and to maintain category at airports.56

3.49 In response, Airservices advised that it was:

…investing significantly in sustainment activities for our existing emergency vehicle fleet in the coming years and have commenced planning for fleet replacement.57

3.50 Mr Porter confirmed to the committee that spare vehicles (or spare capacity) were shared between locations, where they were closely located (for example, between Hobart and Launceston). Such vehicles would be put on a low-loader and transported between locations, so that 'a service has business continuity in terms of maintaining the service'.58

3.51 Mr Porter did go on to state, however, that in recent years new ARFFS stations were being equipped with vehicles from the existing fleet. Airservices was undertaking a staggered approach to replenishing the fleet, noting that the vehicles in the fleet were of different ages and that there was 'still a lot more analysis to go'. As of April 2019, the cost of the vehicle replenishment program was unknown.59

3.52 Mr Porter advised that historically, fire vehicles have been sourced from the international market, due to a lack of local product. Mr Jason Harfield, CEO of Airservices, noted that Airservices was looking to see what was available in

54 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 26-27.

55 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Remote stations), Submission 18, p. 9.

56 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 34.

57 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 11.

58 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 45.

59 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 45, 47.

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the local market; but, as the current fleet of vehicles (Mk8 and Mk9) have had their production line ceased, Airservices needed a new organisation to produce the vehicles. Further, there are very few companies around the world making these vehicles (potentially no more than three), and the product itself was highly engineered without a great demand.60

3.53 The UFUAB suggested that, given a manufacturing time of three years, the ARFFS did not have enough vehicles in a 'rapidly growing industry', resulting in category drops in locations where vehicles were already being shared.61

Domestic response vehicles 3.54 In addition to fire vehicles, Airservices also provides a domestic response service (DRS), whereby a smaller vehicle, a Domestic Response Vehicle (DRV), is equipped to attend to other emergencies occurring around the aerodrome.

3.55 For example, the UFUA advised that at the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth Airports, Airservices provides a DRV which responds to non-aviation incidents around an airport, such as medical emergencies like heart attacks or injuries, as well as non-aircraft fires, structural fires around the airport, hazardous material events or alarms (among other things).62

3.56 The legislation committee was advised that staff on the DRS are 'over and above the safe staffing levels that are required to respond to an incident', in accordance with CASA regulations.63

3.57 However, the UFUA reported that the DRVs were staffed with one officer and two firefighters, which was an insufficient number to adhere to the 'two-in, two-out' principle of firefighting. This principle means that no firefighter enters a dangerous situation unless four firefighters are on the scene. The reduced staffing of DRVs meant that a DRV response team may have to wait for backup from suburban fire stations in responding to structural fires. The UFUA additionally noted that:

…while the DRV is responding to the aviation incident there is no rescue appliance or crew on site to attend to any medical emergencies, structure fires or alarms at the airport.64

60 Mr Robert Porter and Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 8 April 2019, pp. 32-34.

61 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 16.

62 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 10.

63 Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 26 February 2018, pp. 132-133.

64 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 10.

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Establishment of new ARFFS fire stations 3.58 In accordance with section 2.1.1 of the MOS, all airports which reach the 350 000 passenger establishment trigger, must establish an ARFFS. CASA explained that with regard to the establishment trigger, it would look

for the passenger numbers to be sustained over a 12-month period. Once the trigger was reached, CASA conducts a 'full review to satisfy itself that the projected growth is either maintained, sustained, or continued'.65

3.59 There was some concern expressed during the inquiry about the time lag between the hard trigger of passenger numbers being reached and sustained, and the subsequent establishment of the ARFF service.

3.60 In an acknowledgement of this delay, CASA does allow for Airservices to implement a graduated ARFF service, whereby firefighting capacity at an airport is built up over time, in order to reach the category that is required at a particular airport.66

3.61 Mr Harfield of Airservices has previously advised the legislation committee that the organisation was conscious of the time lag between reaching the trigger and establishing an ARFFS, and thus implemented the graduated service. However, Mr Harfield made clear that new fire stations create additional financial burdens on airlines; therefore, if an ARFFS was established too quickly, it could add extra charges which could hamper growth at the airport. Mr Harfield argued that Airservices was 'balancing managing the risks associated with the airport and the firefighting service'.67

3.62 When questioned about the practicalities of the hard passenger trigger, and the subsequent timeframes required in which to establish an ARFF service, Mr Walker of CASA advised that:

Whilst the trigger is a hard trigger, you would appreciate that the conversation that needs to occur between the service provider, the regulator and the actual airlines themselves, and also some of the work that is done to actually make the assessment, do take a little bit of time. In taking the time, it is about making sure that you don't necessarily build fire stations and end up with stranded assets…Historically, both Airservices and CASA have seen the pros and the cons of acting quickly, and it is about trying to strike the right balance and making sure that we do get it right.68

65 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 27.

66 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, pp. 27-28.

67 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 22 May 2018, p. 112.

68 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 30.

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3.63 Ms Bennetts of Airservices made a similar point, and observed that the CASR did not provide a time frame in which an ARFF service had to be established (once the trigger threshold was met). Ms Bennetts observed that the silence of the regulations regarding timeframes 'has required ongoing consultation and collaboration' between CASA and Airservices.69

3.64 The passenger trigger was reached at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast Airport) on 30 June 2017.70 DIRDC advised that the ARFF service at Proserpine was expected to be online by the end of June 2020.71 Ms Bennetts provided details on how an ARFF service might be established, using Proserpine as an example:

…we sought clarity from the regulator, which said to us that within three months of receiving the [passenger] data we would need to put a safety case to the regulator setting out how we were going to provide a service and when we were going to do it. We did that. We put a safety case to the regulator in January 2018 setting out how we are going to provide the service and saying that we would have it up and running by the second quarter of 2020, which is roughly the time frame it has taken to establish most of our fire services in recent years.72

3.65 Mr Wood confirmed that it took two to two and a half years to implement an ARFFS service at an airport.73 Involved in this process was procurement for establishing and building the new station, identifying a suitable location for the station in order to meet regulated response times, and working with the airport on these matters.74 Further, any proposal to establish a new ARFFS station required the approval of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.75

3.66 With regard to recent fire station developments, Airservices advised that:

In recent years we have completed an upgrade of the Brisbane fire station, commenced an upgrade of the Canberra fire station and have committed to upgrading the Rockhampton and Coolangatta fire stations. We are

69 Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, pp. 34-35.

70 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, answers to questions taken on notice, 14 March 2019 (received 28 March 2019).

71 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, answers to questions on notice, 14 March 2019 (received 1 April 2019).

72 Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 34.

73 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 34.

74 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 8 April 2019, p. 99.

75 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 11.

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constructing a second fire station at Brisbane and a new station at Whitsunday Coast Airport.76

Case study - Brisbane Airport 3.67 A new, additional runway currently under construction at Brisbane Airport has necessitated the construction of a new ARFFS fire station (also known as a fire control centre), to ensure ARFF services can be provided on this runway

alongside the existing facilities.

3.68 The new parallel runway is due for completion in mid-2020, and is located two kilometres from the current, primary runway.77

3.69 In addition to the three minute response time for the ARFFS, as required by ICAO and stipulated by the MOS, the ICAO SARPs provide that a fire station should be located so that the access for rescue and firefighting vehicles into the runway area is direct and clear, requiring a minimum number of turns.78

Site selection for new station 3.70 Airservices informed the committee that in order to select the site for the new ARFFS station at Brisbane, an initial review of feasible locations was undertaken, in 2015. This review identified three possible sites for further

detailed assessment. The detailed assessment stage considered a number of factors, including:

…the ability to meet regulated response times, the ability to observe all landings and take-offs from the Fire Control Centre (FCC), any impact on air traffic control tower line of sight, the ability to meet the opening date of the new runway, and cost.79

3.71 As a result of this process, two preferred options were identified as having the fastest response times and the least amount of operational risk, and thus 'providing the best opportunity for ARFF to save the maximum number of lives in the event of an incident'. The selected sites were referred to as 'site 2' (or option three), and 'site 3' (option four).80

76 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 11.

77 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 2.

78 International Civil Aviation Organization, Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation: Aerodromes, Recommendation 9.2.38, as cited by United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 4.

79 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, correspondence dated 31 May 2019, [p. 1].

80 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, correspondence dated 31 May 2019, [p. 1].

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3.72 Once the two sites had been selected, line of sight and expected response time assessments were undertaken by external expert consultants, and 'vehicle time tests were subsequently conducted to validate estimated response times'.81

3.73 Site 3 was selected as the site of the new runway, as it had:

…the fastest response times of the remaining options, would allow ARFFS to meet required response times to all runways, could be completed in time to support the new runway opening, and involved significant lower capital costs than site 2.82

3.74 In order to ensure line of sight at the new station, which would be impeded in future due to forthcoming airport developments, Airservices had obtained CASA approval to install viewing cameras to 'enable fire fighters to observe all landings and take-offs from the new runway at the existing main station'.83

3.75 CASA also advised that the new ARFFS station at Brisbane Airport would meet all response times, 'according to the supplied Airservices Safety Case'. CASA noted that these will be tested when the taxiway and runway facilities were completed. Mr Walker of CASA continued that with the testing conducted by Airservices:

They have to physically demonstrate, including timing, to make sure they meet the standard. They have to be able to reach all runway ends for the aerodrome in that time and be delivering foam at an appropriate rate.84

3.76 With an overall budget of $24.92 million, construction of the new station commenced at the beginning of June 2019, with practical completion due in 15 months (with operational readiness to be achieved no later than August 2020).85

Views on station site selection 3.77 It was made clear to the committee that some stakeholders objected to the location of the new fire station, suggesting it would not meet various ARRFS regulatory requirements.

3.78 For example, the UFUAB asserted that the new fire station was 'very poorly located', and that the site selected for the station had 'no chance of complying with the ICAO and CASR requirements' for a fire control centre. The UFUAB

81 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

82 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, correspondence dated 31 May 2019, [p. 2].

83 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, correspondence dated 31 May 2019, [p. 2].

84 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, answers to questions taken on notice, 14 March 2019 (received 28 March 2019); Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 29.

85 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, correspondence received 31 May 2019, [pp. 2-3]. The budget included funding for the new station, and associated air navigation infrastructure.

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further suggested that Airservices wished to remove the ICAO and CASR requirement that a firefighter observe all landings and take-offs, instead transferring this function to air traffic control (ATC), thus reducing safety by removing a firefighter dedicated to the task, to an ATC officer with other duties.86

3.79 The UFUAB asserted that minimum safety standards could not be met at site 3, and that there was no contingency plan for when the standards might be breached. The UFUAB suggested that one option then available to Airservices would be to seek a dispensation from CASA in relation to emergency response times, which the UFUAB considered 'completely unacceptable, unsafe, and has never occurred before'.87

3.80 Mr Mark von Nida, Branch Secretary with the UFUAB, argued that the site selected for the new fire station was in the middle of the Brisbane Airport, 'nowhere near the runway', and that it would therefore be a struggle for the ARFFS to meet the required three minute response times.88

3.81 The UFUAB further asserted that site 3 would result in congested taxiways, an increase in the number of turns required by fire vehicles attending to incidents on the new runway (thus negatively impacting on response times), and would not have an unimpeded view of the new runway. The UFUAB instead suggested that site 2 met all national and international safety criteria and response times.89

3.82 Conversely, Mr Porter argued that a 'vast amount of work' had been completed, analysing the different sites for the station across the airport. Mr Porter noted that Airservices had worked closely with Brisbane Airport to identify suitable locations, and concluded that the selected site 'will satisfy all the regulatory requirements'.90

3.83 Airservices also advised that the response times for site 3 to the new runway had been tested, and—while longer than the other preferred site—was within seven seconds of response times of the existing service to the current runway. Further, response times to the existing runway was 24 seconds faster than the

86 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 20-21.

87 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 11.

88 Mr Mark von Nida, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 13.

89 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, pp. 5-6.

90 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 27.

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current services, and 19 seconds faster than the other proposed site for the new station.91

3.84 Airservices informed the committee that following an extensive assessment process (as detailed earlier in this chapter), the site for the new satellite fire station was endorsed by the Chief Fire Officer and the then Executive General Manager Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting, and approved by the then acting CEO, in July 2015.92

3.85 Mr Porter acknowledged that some stakeholders were unhappy with the selected site (with others happy with the choice). Mr Porter and Airservices confirmed, however, that consultation regarding site selection was undertaken, with the Brisbane Fire Station Manager and Northern Regional Operations Manager both consulted 'for their operational expertise'. Further, Airservices advised that specialist firefighters from the Chief Fire Officer's office were also involved, and that the decision on the chosen location had to be approved by CASA. CASA did so in October 2018.93

3.86 Airservices further advised that the Brisbane Local Operations Manager was involved in the safety and risk assessment work, completed to assess the site options for the new station. Airservices indicated that it did not receive:

…concerns from local fire fighting staff in relation to the location of the new Brisbane fire station during the site selection process.94

Line of sight at the new station 3.87 It was confirmed by Mr Porter that while the regulations require a line of sight to aircraft landings and take-offs from the fire control centre, the regulations do not stipulate 'who or where or how' this line of sight should be maintained.

Therefore, line of sight could be maintained via the ATC or via CCTV. Airservices could therefore designate the ATC as a fire control centre for the purpose of maintaining line of sight.95

91 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

92 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019). As part of the response to the questions on notice, Airservices provided a chronology of key documentation and decision points for the new runway project.

93 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 28-30; Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

94 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

95 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 36-37.

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3.88 Airservices advised that in August 2015, CASA confirmed that there were no regulatory barriers to the use of viewing cameras to meet visibility requirements.96

3.89 Mr Porter provided further information on the line-of-sight issue, and noted that the two options considered by Airservices for delivering line of sight involved either CCTV cameras to improve sight issues, or officers in the ATC tower alerting operational crews to the need for an ARFFS response. Mr Porter explained that the use of the ATC controller was in the early stages of a trial, to determine whether it was a feasible option—controllers already have an obligation to scan the runway when aircraft movements occur, and operate a crash alarm to alert the ARFFS if necessary.97

3.90 Mr Porter drew attention to the fact that there were some international examples of ATC alerting ARFFS operational crews to emergencies, resulting in some time efficiency for the air traffic controller. Mr Porter detailed this efficiency, stating that under pre-trial conditions:

The air traffic controller would need to activate a crash alarm, make contact with the fire station and relay a message to say that there's an incident on the particular runway, and it's this type of aircraft. Rather than that process, the controller would turn out the crew directly and make a PA announcement from the tower that would be relayed to the fire station so that the crews get it firsthand—therefore, cutting down the time that's required.98

3.91 As of April 2019, the trial involving the ATC had yet to commence. The first phase of the trial was establishing the risk associated with the trial, followed by a safety analysis. The trial will aim to determine whether the controller has capacity to properly alert the ARFFS, and the practical ability to do so (for example, by having the appropriate equipment).99

96 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

97 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 31; Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

98 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 31.

99 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 36.

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Chapter 4

Staffing levels within the ARFFS

4.1 Alongside the concerns raised in the previous chapter regarding ARFFS equipment and the development of new stations, significant concerns were raised with regard to the level of staffing provided at ARFFS locations, against each aerodrome category.

4.2 Concerns over staffing related to insufficient staffing levels or reductions in staffing levels against airport category at certain airports; a lack of proper risk assessment and consultation prior to the implementation of significant ARFF service delivery changes; and the redeployment of firefighting crews to other, non-regulated activities. This chapter explores these concerns.

Staffing levels 4.3 Throughout the inquiry, ARFF firefighters and their union representatives voiced serious concerns over apparent reductions in staffing levels by Airservices at ARFFS locations across Australia, and over inadequate staffing

numbers against aerodrome categories.

NFPA staffing levels 4.4 It was often raised in evidence that the staffing profile developed by the NFPA in relation to ARFFS was to be preferred over the Australian regulations. Mr Andrew Hanson, currently a Fire Commander, provided a comparison of

the recommended staffing levels put forward by the NFPA, and those currently in place for the ARFFS in Australia. Mr Hanson suggested that the 'disparity is staggering' between the two organisations, particularly at the lower categories, and that to date, no explanation had been provided by Airservices as to the discrepancy.1 The comparison is provided at Table 4.1.

Table 4.1 Comparison of staffing levels - NFPA against ARFFS

Airport Category NFPA staffing ARFFS staffing

6 9 5

7 9 6

8 12 8

9 15 10

10 15 14

Source: Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 5.

1 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 5.

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4.5 Mr Hanson suggested that the NFPA standards, when compared with the ARFFS requirements in Australia, were to be preferred. Mr Hanson observed that the NFPA numbers were developed using an expert panel, and considered realistic staffing numbers. The greatest disparities between the ARFFS and the NFPA were at the lower category levels (for example, nine staff recommended by the NFPA for Category 6 airports, compared with actual staffing of five at Australian airports). Mr Hanson expressed particular concern about this, noting that:

In Australia this is compounded by the fact that these stations do not receive the same level of outside support within the same timeframes as the larger city airports.2

4.6 This view was supported by the UFUAB, which said that many regional ARFF stations did not have ready access to local ambulance services, or appropriate medical facilities, such as hospitals within close proximity to the airport. While noting that the ARFFS was not responsible for providing this type of support, the UFUAB suggested that additional firefighters should be provided in such areas in order to provide adequate emergency responses. The UFUAB was particularly concerned that the ARFFS was 'failing to meet the minimum staffing numbers in remote and regional locations'.3

4.7 It was also noted by the UFUA that the NFPA standards were preferred, as they exceeded the personnel and firefighting vehicle numbers required by Airservices.4

Reduction in staffing levels 4.8 It was put to the committee during the inquiry that staffing levels were being reduced or re-allocated across the ARFF service, placing the safety of both crews and the travelling public at risk.

4.9 For example, the UFUAB explained that until recently, the ARFFS had resourced its DRS with staff separate to those who were maintaining category requirements. This was to 'reduce the risk of a domestic response (non-aviation) degrading the category coverage'. However, under a 'hybrid model', ARFFS crew were now responding to non-aviation incidents.5

2 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, pp. 5-6.

3 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Remote stations), Submission 18, pp. 6-7; 11-15.

4 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 9-10. See also United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 13.

5 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, pp. 18-19.

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Mr Hunter confirmed to the committee that there were significantly more domestic responses than responses to aircraft incidents.6

4.10 In another example, evidence to the committee suggested that in 2013, Brisbane Airport was reclassified as a Category 10 airport following the completion of a Safety Case Assessment and Reporting Determination (SCARD), in light of the fact that the A380 was entering service at that airport. The SCARD determined the staffing level at Brisbane as 17 ARFFS staff, in order to accommodate the newly arrived A380s.7

4.11 However, it was put forward by the UFUA that in recent years, there had been a reduction in crewing levels at the Brisbane Airport from 17 to 14 crew (as well as at Perth Airport, which faced similar circumstances). The UFUA argued that both airports had been reclassified from Category 10 to Category 9 airports, despite both still receiving Airbus A380 aircraft (although infrequently).8

4.12 The UFUAB noted that this reduction in crew equated to three staff per crew, a total loss of 12 operational positions (based on a 24-hour roster), or 24 crew members across the two airports.9

Cross-crewing and the Brisbane and Perth airports 4.13 In light of the above staff reductions, the UFUA took the view that a Category 10-level ARFFS response at these airports could therefore only be achieved through Airservices 'cross-crewing' its ARFF and DRV vehicles.

Cross-crewing means that 'the same crew can respond either to a DRV or ARFF incident, but not both simultaneously' (emphasis in original). For example, at a Category 10 airport an ARFF domestic response with the DRV, with three crew, would leave 11 crew at an ARFFS station, below the 14 personnel required for a Category 10 response.10

6 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 19.

7 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, and Mr John Hancox, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 13-15.

8 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 10. The UFUAB stated that Brisbane Airport was considered as Category 10 between 6.10am and 7.10am, and between 8.15pm and 9.15pm; see United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 2.

9 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 22. See also Mr Mark von Nida, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 15.

10 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 10-11.

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4.14 Mr John Hancox, an ARFFS firefighter, provided the committee with an example of this occurring, when in February 2019 three staff from the Brisbane ARFFS responded to a cardiac event on a plane at the international terminal. During this time, an A380 taxied and took off. However, as there were only 14 staff available at the station, the domestic response meant that the ARFFS station was left with 11 crew during the A380's movements. Previously, when the Brisbane ARFFS had 17 staff, three staff could attend a first-aid emergency while 14 staff remained at the station, thus maintaining category.11

4.15 The UFUA suggested that this cross-crewing approach was occurring regularly, and concluded that such an approach was a risk to both firefighter and public safety. The UFUA summarised the cross-crewing process, stating that:

…when firefighters are required to turn out in the DRV, the level of staffing remaining at the station is insufficient to maintain a Category 10 response (the level required when an A380 Airbus utilises the airport) and to respond to any major incident. Maintaining crewing and vehicle numbers appropriate to the Airport Category is crucial to the safety of airport passengers, staff and visitors.12

4.16 Mr Peter Marshall, National Secretary of the UFUA, suggested that cross-crewing was a 'cost-cutting exercise' which put ARFF firefighters in an 'untenable position'. Conversely, before its implementation, Mr Marshall said there were adequate staffing levels to contend with multiple scenarios (for example, a Category 10 aircraft and a medical emergency). Mr Marshall continued that:

Emergency response is not predictable; it is time critical. Aircraft intervention is time critical…it's seconds, not minutes, to be able to intervene. The point I'm making is that you can't be in two places at the one time.13

4.17 Mr Tim Limmer, a firefighter at the Brisbane ARFFS, also argued that the cross-crewing occurring at Brisbane Airport was compromising safety and causing 'great stress' among firefighters.14

4.18 There was some confusion as to when cross-crewing was implemented at Brisbane. In light of this, Airservices provided to the legislation committee a

11 Mr John Hancox, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 16-17.

12 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 10-11. The UFUA presented examples of the 'cross-crewing' approach at the Brisbane and Perth Airports; see p. 11.

13 Mr Peter Marshall, United Firefighters Union of Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, pp. 8-9.

14 Mr Tim Limmer, Submission 20, [p. 1].

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timeline of events leading to the change of category at Brisbane Airport. The timeline is as follows:

 January 2018 - local ARFFS management was advised that A380 operations at Brisbane would reduce to one arrival and one departure per day, as of 25 March 2018, and would potentially cease entirely between 2 June and 1 September that year;

 Following this advice, staff consultation was commenced by Airservices regarding amendments to the staffing roster, and due to the further consultation and safety work required, no changes to staffing were made at the time;

 February 2018 - staff were advised that there was no intent to implement staffing changes in March 2018, and at that stage, there was no intention to implement cross-crewing at Brisbane Airport;

 March 2018 - Airservices received confirmation that, as of 2 September 2018, Brisbane Airport would only receive one arrival and one departure daily of A380s, with services to cease between 2 June and 1 September 2018;

 2 June 2018 - Brisbane Airport reverted to a Category 9 airport, 24 hours a day (with 13 crew at all times), and consultation commenced with staff about 'upcoming reversion to periodic Category 10 operations';

 August 2018 - Airservices determined that from 2 September 2018, 14 staff would be on duty at all times at the Brisbane ARFFS, and that the DRV could be utilised safely using these 14 staff.15

4.19 Airservices advised that this staffing model has been in place 'effectively and safely' at Perth Airport since 2016. Further, with these category amendments and cross-crewing there were no changes at all to the provision of ARFF services in response to any fire on an aerodrome, or the provision of first aid responses, with no intention to change this in the future.16

4.20 Mr Harfield noted that the staffing levels at Brisbane were in accordance with the category of the airport, particularly in light of the fact that Brisbane Airport's service of A380s had been reduced to once or twice a day—thus making it appropriate to change the airport's category to Category 9 (with the ability to service Category 10 aircraft movements when required). Mr Harfield explained this situation as follows:

Brisbane Airport is a category 9 station that is staffed to category 10 levels when there are A380 movements from time to time. The required category 10 staffing is 14, which is three officers and 11 firefighters. Sydney and Melbourne are category 10 stations 24 hours a day. They also have a

15 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, Supplementary Estimates 2018-19, 22 October 2018 (received 10 December 2018); Attachment A to question 96, pp. 1-2.

16 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, Supplementary Estimates 2018-19, 22 October 2018 (received 10 December 2018); Attachment A to question 96, p. 2.

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domestic response vehicle which does the extra first aid, which is staffed separately. It's also provided at Brisbane, but it's staffed within the existing crew.17

4.21 Mr Harfield conceded that it was possible, at the Brisbane and Perth airports, that only 11 crew could be available during a Category 10 movement, if other crew were responding to, for example, a first aid call. However, Mr Harfield asserted that 'there was the ability to handle that scenario prior to this change, as there is now', and that the ARFFS was adhering to CASA requirements. Mr Harfield concluded that at Brisbane Airport:

They still have a full complement of crew for the required and appropriate level of staffing and service.18

4.22 Airservices later asserted that the staffing currently in place at Brisbane Airport was developed 'through a risk assessment process based on task resourcing'.19

4.23 Airservices stated that the safety of the travelling public remains the primary concern of Airservices, and argued that:

Staffing models for the provision of ARFFS across Australia, including at Brisbane Airport, are designed with paramount regard to stringent safety and risk analysis, and are approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority as meeting the required regulatory standards.

The recent changes to the Brisbane staffing model did not impact Airservices' ability to both provide fire response services in accordance with regulatory requirements, and respond to first aid incidents in and around the terminal.20

Category changes 4.24 The MOS provides, in Chapter 25, that if there is a need to temporarily reduce the category of the ARFFS provision due to an unforeseen circumstance affecting impending aircraft movements, all affected parties shall be notified

immediately via the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system.21 The officer in charge at the time makes a determination as to the ability of ARFFS to respond

17 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 22 October 2018, p. 180.

18 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 22 October 2018, pp. 180-181.

19 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

20 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, Supplementary Estimates 2018-19, 22 October 2018 (received 10 December 2018); Attachment A to question 96, p. 3.

21 Section 25.1.3.1, MOS Part 139.H—Standards Applicable to the Provision of Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, Version 1.2, January 2005, p. 25-1.

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to an aircraft emergency, and advises accordingly through NOTAM and through the control tower.22

4.25 The UFUAB observed that this requirement then allows the air crew of a plane to determine whether the level of ground service is suitable to their needs.23 However, this would also be dependent on whether they were notified in a timely manner of the change to category.24

4.26 Mr Wood explained that in the event of reduced ARFF services, airlines could determine whether to land a plane at that airport. By way of example, Mr Wood said that if there was a major fire in an airport terminal:

…regardless of the number of staff, they are all going to respond to that fire. And in that instance, they will advise through the tower the aircraft that are operating a reduction in service level or category, and then the pilot will make a decision whether or not they still want to land or take off.25

4.27 DIRDC further advised that the category of an aerodrome can be reduced (dropped) during periods of reduced activity—for example during night operations—to no less than that needed for the highest category of aircraft planning to use the aerodrome during that time.26

4.28 In documents provided to the committee, it was stated that sustained variations to category could trigger a requirement for a category change, to ensure there were adequate staff and resources to respond to the worst possible scenario. Variations could also be triggered 'due to a regular aircraft movement which is of a greater category than that currently provided', and where Airservices ARFFS:

…seeks to supply that level of category without utilising the ability to provide services one level below the largest regularly operating aircraft.27

Case study: Adelaide Airport 4.29 For some time, concerns have been raised by firefighters and local stakeholders about Adelaide Airport being reduced in category during its curfew period.

22 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 41.

23 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 20.

24 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 18.

25 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 41.

26 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 6.

27 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, answers to questions take on notice, 14 March 2019 (received 28 March 2019); Attachment: Perth ARFFS Permanent Change from Category 9 to Category 9 with the ability to increase to 10, Safety Case, 5 December 2018, p. 5.

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During curfew, the airport is classed as Category 5, whereas during daytime operations, the airport is classed as Category 9.

4.30 The curfew at Adelaide Airport does not prevent all aircraft movements, but rather limits aircraft movements between 11.00pm and 6.00am by restricting the types of aircraft operating, and the number of flights permitted. Mr Terry Buss, the CEO of the City of West Torrens (where the Adelaide Airport is located) observed that despite the curfew, there are a significant number of flights overnight:

On average, over the past three years, the number of permitted aircraft movements during the curfew period has been 4,160 movements annually—those numbers have been taken from Airservices figures—and that equates to approximately 11.4 aircraft movements per night-morning, or per curfew period, every day. This is not an insignificant number of aircraft movements, considering the curfew that exists.28

4.31 Mayor Michael Coxon, of the City of West Torrens, advised that the majority of these flights were for commercial or freight purposes.29

4.32 It was argued that despite being classified as Category 5 during curfew, Adelaide Airport was receiving Category 6 aircraft during this time. While the airport had five staff during curfew—two more than required by the category—it was suggested that Airservices was looking to reduce these numbers back to three, as per the regulated Category 5 requirements.30

4.33 Mr Buss noted the concerns of the City of West Torrens over any reduction to ARFF crews at Adelaide Airport, arguing that less firefighters could 'jeopardise the ability of rescue and firefighting personnel to deal with emergencies and security threats' at the airport. Mr Buss suggested a reduction in ARFFS staffing, at a time when the Airport and its surrounding precincts were continuing to rapidly grow, was 'illogical' and 'counterintuitive'.31

4.34 Mr Barker likewise suggested that this approach presented a direct risk to safety, was a breach of the MOS, and placed an 'increased and unrealistic reliance on external agencies', such as the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (SAMFS), to attend in a timely manner to on-airport emergencies. Mr Barker concluded that:

28 Mr Terry Buss, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 1.

29 Mayor Michael Coxon, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 4.

30 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 15.

31 Mr Terry Buss, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, pp. 2-3.

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In the event of an incident requiring ARFF intervention the resources for Category 5 are nothing short of dangerous and compromise the safety of the crew and people who need to be rescued.32

4.35 Mayor Coxon suggested it would take approximately five minutes from notification of an emergency event at the airport to when SAMFS could potentially arrive at that event. Mayor Coxon raised concerns about this, noting that 'every second counts' when dealing with highly flammable material.33

4.36 Mr Barker continued by saying that in the event ARFF crew were dispatched to an emergency—either at the airport or within the response area off airport— the Adelaide Airport would be left with no ARFF at all, and therefore no capacity to respond to an aircraft incident. Mr Barker suggested that such an approach represented a 'gross misinterpretation and understanding' of the CASR and the MOS, and demonstrated a failure to recognise the services required to respond to the 'hazards of a major international capital city airport'.34

4.37 Mayor Coxon voiced his concern about the lack of ARRFS coverage when passenger aircraft were not in operation. Mayor Coxon reasoned that such an approach led to a perception that that no aircraft were operating during such a time, however he noted that:

We have aircraft that come in and out of this airport during the curfew period courtesy of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. I would be really concerned that, should an event occur, we would be unable to proactively respond to an event that involved the Royal Flying Doctor Service, just as an example.35

4.38 Mr Buss also noted that a number of dispensations to either land or take off were granted to commercial passenger aircraft during the curfew period (for example, due to flight diversions or departure delays). By way of example, Mr Buss stated that:

…in the period of July to September 2018 there were a number of approved dispensations. There was a Tiger Australia dispensation with 164 passengers on board, a Qantas dispensation with 109 passengers on board, a Virgin Australia with 153 passengers on board, a Jetstar with 138 passengers, a Virgin Australia with 176 passengers, an Emirates with 331, and so on.36

32 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, pp. 15, 21-22.

33 Mayor Michael Coxon, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 3.

34 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 19.

35 Mayor Michael Coxon, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 4.

36 Mr Terry Buss, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 5.

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4.39 Mayor Coxon was of the understanding that when these dispensations during curfew occurred, the ARFF service did not have 'enough lead time for them to increase their complement' of staff, in order to maintain or achieve the appropriate category.37 Mr Buss made a similar point, stating that:

If there were an incident involving one of those aircraft movements, I doubt whether even the current crew could deal with it, let alone a reduced crew.38

4.40 To remain compliant with the MOS, Mr Barker recommended that the category during curfew at the Airport be raised from Category 5 to Category 7, and be resourced accordingly. Doing so would provide an extra fire vehicle, and three extra ARFF staff during curfew.39

4.41 In correspondence to Mr Buss dated 15 February 2019, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon Michael McCormack MP advised that Airservices was 'conducting a review of its ARFFS staffing levels' during the curfew period, when no regular passenger transport aircraft were in operation. Minister McCormack further noted that there was no obligation to provide any ARFFS coverage outside the operating hours of passenger aircraft at Adelaide. However:

…reflecting its commitment to aviation safety, Airservices has elected to provide a Category 5 level of service overnight for many years and current staffing levels are above the minimum required for a Category 5 service. Its decision to review staffing levels does not diminish Airservices' commitment to continue to provide a Category 5 service during the curfew period.40

4.42 In response to concerns raised about staffing at Adelaide, Airservices advised the legislation committee that no changes had been made to staffing at Adelaide, and that Airservices was undertaking a review of the Adelaide staffing roster in order to:

…understand why rostered staffing numbers at Adelaide are considerably above the staffing levels approved by CASA [and the review] will be informed by the TRA methodology. No changes to current staffing numbers will be made until they are assessed against the TRA framework after it is introduced in early 2019.41

37 Mayor Michael Coxon, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 6.

38 Mr Terry Buss, City of West Torrens, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 6.

39 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 23.

40 The Hon Michael McCormack MP, correspondence to Mr Terry Buss PSM, City of West Torrens, dated 15 February 2019 (tabled 20 March 2019).

41 Airservices Australia, correspondence to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for its inquiry into the Performance of Airservices Australia, 30 November 2018.

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4.43 Moving forward, Mr Wood advised that Airservices would examine the number of emergencies at Adelaide Airport in recent years, together with the proximity of the local fire services, to feed into an upcoming staffing level review using the TRA framework.42

4.44 Mr Harfield stressed the fact that there were no cuts to staffing levels at any location, and said it was not correct that staffing would be reduced at Adelaide. He further noted that Airservices had maintained services at locations where, under the current regulations, the ARFFS could in fact be disestablished. Airservices had instead taken the decision to maintain the services.43

4.45 Mr Harfield contended that a Category 5 ARFFS at Adelaide was adequate 'for the type of aircraft operating at the airport during those curfew hours and according to what's required under the regulations'. Mr Harfield continued that:

We're certified by CASA for the standard of service, and we have to operate to the level that is provided under the certificate. If the certificate allows us to go to category 5, it's been assessed as appropriate.44

4.46 Mr Harfield further informed the legislation committee that if a dispensation was given for passenger aircraft, ARFFS would have to provide services corresponding to category, regardless of what aircraft arrived during curfew. Despite this, Mr Harfield conceded that at that time, no assessment had been done as to how many people worked at the airport during curfew hours.45

4.47 In October 2018, Mr Harfield refuted the suggestion that a downgrade of category at certain airports was a cost-cutting exercise. Mr Harfield explained that Airservices would save no money from changes to category; rather, Airservices was examining its 'resourcing profile around the country', noting that some airports were changing with different aircraft mixes, requiring either an increase or decrease to category.46

42 Mr Glenn Wood, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, pp. 39-40.

43 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 8 April 2019, p. 28.

44 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 22 October 2018, pp. 182-183.

45 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 22 October 2018, p. 184.

46 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 22 October 2018, p. 185.

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Views on staffing reductions 4.48 The UFUAB took the view that in reducing staff numbers, Airservices had 'completely ignored' the views of a committee of ARFFS operational experts, and had excluded the input of these experts in considering the reduced

staffing model. Further, the UFUAB argued that it and many ARFFS firefighters saw reduced staffing, including via ICAO's remission factor, to be 'completely unsafe'.47

4.49 The UFUAB indicated that ARFFS staff at Brisbane Airport did not believe that they could properly respond to a Category 10 emergency, 'within the current resourcing models'. Staff at the Brisbane ARFFS argued that an incident with a Category 10 aircraft under reduced staffing would 'result in unacceptable increased loss of life', while also endangering ARFFS staff.48

4.50 The UFUA contended that there was little to no oversight of staffing reductions, therefore placing 'airports, staff, passengers and ARFF personnel at risk on a regular basis'. The UFUA concluded that there was a need to:

…review ARFF regulations and standards to better align them with ICAO SARPs, with consideration given to the standards established in NFPA 403 as examples of best practice.49

Legislating staffing levels 4.51 The UFUA contended that ARFFS staffing levels should be legislated, rather than placed in regulations or operational procedure documents. The UFUA argued that changes to regulations and operational procedures did not require

or involve public scrutiny, and did not properly consider the unintended consequences of reduced staffing levels; if enshrined in legislation, any amendments to staffing levels would be subject to a 'rigorous process of examination and investigation'.50

4.52 Mr Hunter of the UFUAB supported this position, arguing that 'staffing numbers must be regulated or legislated to prevent the watering down' of safe crew numbers, with the NFPA standards used as the baseline for any legislated staffing levels. Mr Hunter continued that 'legislation and regulations

47 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 23.

48 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, pp. 13, 15.

49 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 1.

50 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 12. The UFUA also argued, however, that as the MOS was a legislative instrument, it could be 'unilaterally amended' by CASA; see Submission 10, p. 5.

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must be brought into line with ICAO', which would include identifying staffing needs above the NFPA.51

4.53 The UFUA also called for an independent review of current ARFFS staffing levels, to establish an 'appropriate minimum staffing level' by airport category, taking into consideration the NFPA 403 standard.52

51 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 2. The same views were put forward by Mr John Hancox; see Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 3.

52 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 12.

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Chapter 5

Division of responsibility in aviation emergency responses

5.1 A number of concerns were raised during the inquiry regarding the provision of non-regulated services by ARFFS. ARFF services provided, for example, emergency first aid responses or responded to other requests for assistance within an aerodrome, services which were not related to its regulated service delivery—those functions relating to aircraft and aerodrome safety.

5.2 This chapter considers the concerns raised about the division of responsibilities in responding to emergency situations on aerodromes, and the interaction of ARFF services with state and territory fire services.

Provision of non-regulated services 5.3 Airservices pointed out that in 2017-18, its ARFF service responded to over 4000 emergencies which were not related to its regulated service delivery; the majority of these emergencies were requests for first aid assistance.1

5.4 Airservices remarked that the CASRs do not contain a specific requirement for ARFFS to provide emergency first aid. While ARFFS providers were skilled and trained in providing first aid assistance, and were provided with the necessary equipment with which to do so, this was to enable ARFFS providers to attend aircraft and other regulated emergencies. However, Airservices advised that:

…the vast majority of first aid responses provided by ARFFS are non-regulated responses such as a person requesting assistance in the terminal.2

5.5 Ms Bennetts advised that Airservices did not charge for these additional, non-regulated services, on the basis that they provide an 'important contribution to community safety' whilst affording ARFFS firefighters opportunities to 'practice and develop their skills and experience'.3

5.6 ARFFS, as part of regulated services, also responds to fire alarm activations. However, Airservices observed that many fire alarm responses were to commercial or non-aviation related developments, such as business parks, on airport land. Airservices questioned the appropriateness of ARFFS responding

1 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 7.

2 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 8.

3 Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 33.

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to increasing numbers of fire alarms on non-aviation related commercial developments, given the safety and cost implications. To better address this issue, Airservices suggested that:

The local state/territory fire services may in some cases be more appropriate to respond to these type[s] of emergencies. This approach would allow ARFFS to remain focused and ready to respond to aircraft emergencies and aviation related infrastructure on the aerodrome.4

5.7 Airservices noted that, in addition to its regulated requirements, the ARFFS was working with a number of airports where the CASRs did not require ARFFS to be provided. Firefighting subject matter experts had been allocated to these airports, to assist with airport emergency planning and preparation.5

5.8 Ms Bennetts of Airservices voiced some concerns over the approach to non-regulated services, and noted that there was 'no set formula' for making decisions about attending non-regulated events. Ms Bennetts put forward the view that while attending non-regulated services utilises existing resource capacity, attendance at such events should not jeopardise the ability of the ARFFS to respond to aircraft emergencies. Airservices cautioned that the provision of non-regulated services:

…must be carefully managed to ensure they do not grow to an extent that they require significant resources beyond what can be provided within existing capacity [and] therefore lead to an increase in landing charges at aerodromes.6

5.9 Mr Porter indicated that further work was required in the area of domestic response services, noting there was greater clarity around the regulation of aviation responses, as opposed to domestic responses. Mr Porter agreed with the assertion that the TRA process, as recommended by ICAO for the provision of resources to ARFFS, could not help to determine the demand for resources for domestic responses. Mr Porter further confirmed there was no regulatory driver for a TRA-like process for the domestic response. Mr Porter noted that:

ICAO requires a TRA [for aviation], so that part of the business or the operations is covered by the TRA. It doesn’t have the same level of prescription in terms of that domestic response.7

4 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 7.

5 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 12.

6 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 7; Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 33.

7 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 44.

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5.10 While the firefighting union expressed some concerns over the Airservices approach to non-regulated services, a number of its views aligned with those of Airservices.

5.11 The UFUAB suggested that saving lives via the provision of first aid would be viewed by the public as a 'very successful and effective use of ARFFS staff and resources'. The UFUAB continued that the provision of first aid by ARRFS firefighters adds value to airports, and argued that first aid responses:

…utilises the skills and capability already in place at the ARFFS stations at the 26 busiest airports without generating significant extra costs. It provides our members with exposure to emergency responses that makes them better and more effective firefighters and first responders. Over the past 20 or more years that the ARFFS has provided this service literally hundreds of Australian lives have been saved.8

Division of responsibilities in emergency response 5.12 DIRDC undertook a Regulatory Policy Review in 2015 (Review), and released an associated discussion paper. This paper considered the 'other' services which were provided by Airservices, alongside its regulated, ARFFS

responsibilities.9

5.13 Such services included monitoring of fire alarms, first aid, and 'non-aviation' rescue and firefighting. While assisting with these services was provided for under the Air Services Act 1995, the Review noted that 'these services should not impede on Airservices' capacity to perform its core aerodrome-related' ARFFS functions.10

5.14 It was noted by Mr Porter that airports across the country are seeing major developments occur around the airport. This was not limited to large capital city airports, with Mr Porter acknowledging that smaller airports and regional locations are developing hotels and other revenue-generating projects at airports.11 These expansions could have a direct impact on the ability of ARFFS to respond to an increasing volume of emergency responses.

5.15 Similar to the concerns raised by Airservices during this inquiry, the 2015 Review drew similar conclusions about an increasing amount of non-aviation

8 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 33.

9 This Review is considered in detail in Chapter 6.

10 Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Services Regulatory Policy Review: Public Discussion Paper, December 2015, p. 24,

https://www.infrastructure. gov.au/aviation/arffs/files/ARFFS_Policy_Paper_for_Consultation.pdf (accessed 19 June 2019).

11 Mr Robert Porter, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 44.

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development on airport land in recent years, such as retail outlets and business parks, which had challenged 'the notion of what should be considered the 'aerodrome' in determining the exact role of the ARFFS'. The Review noted that:

The provision of non-aviation activities presents challenges for Airservices’ capacity, as the primary ARFFS provider, to continue to provide services to these non-aviation areas at an aerodrome, while maintaining the required ARFFS category of service to respond at any time to aircraft and aviation-related incidents.

The current regulations need to be updated to better reflect what activities constitute core ARFFS aviation-related activities at an airport.12

5.16 The Review suggested that the definition of an 'aerodrome' needs to be reviewed. As drafted, the definition provides no clear indication of what area of land was to be selected for the purpose of applying the definition of 'aerodrome'. The Review highlighted the difficulties that could occur with differences of interpretation of the definition:

A broad interpretation would see the aerodrome area aligning with the outer boundaries of the airport while a narrower interpretation would see the aerodrome constituting some area of land of lesser size than the airport, within the airport boundaries, principally the area related to aviation activity including airport terminals from which aircraft arrive or depart.13

5.17 DIRDC submitted that the recommendations of the Review were aimed at clarifying for ARFFS providers and state and territory authorities the 'operational agreements that delineate their respective roles and responsibilities' at airports where ARFF services are provided.14

5.18 The Review recommended that narrower, 'activity-based' concepts be introduced to better determine ARFFS responsibilities, while moving away from a reliance on the definition of an 'aerodrome'. DIRDC explained that in this way, ARFF services could be aligned to areas or facilities at an airport which are used (or intended to be used) for aviation activities, or activities closely connected with aviation activities. DIRDC concluded that under this model:

12 Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Services Regulatory Policy Review: Public Discussion Paper, December 2015, p. 24.

13 Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Services Regulatory Policy Review: Public Discussion Paper, December 2015, p. 24.

14 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 7.

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…ARFFS would still be able to assist with fire fighting services on other, non-aviation related parts of the aerodrome, but this would not be their primary responsibility.15

5.19 Ms Pip Spence, Deputy Secretary with DIRDC, explained that the regulatory reforms presented by the Reivew were aimed at providing clarity between the different fire services, and would help to ensure that there were 'no gaps between what Airservices does and what the state and territory fire services would do at airports'. Airservices also confirmed that there would be no change to the way ARFFS provided first aid or other emergency services on aerodromes.16

5.20 The approach suggested by the regulatory reforms would accord with ICAO's TRA process, which states that consideration should be given to the impact of an ARFFS responding to other aerodrome emergencies. ICAO states that:

If an airport operator requires the RFFS to attend structural incidents and road traffic accidents in addition to aircraft incidents/accidents, due regard must be given to the inability of not meeting required response times and robust procedures should be introduced accordingly.17

Interaction with state emergency and fire services 5.21 The provision of emergency responses to non-aerodrome sites near airports, and for emergencies which do not fall within the ARFFS regulated framework, require a cohesive approach between the ARFF services and state and territory

fire services. Some evidence was provided detailing how this cooperation took place.

5.22 Mr Harfield has previously noted that Airservices would work with local fire services, to instruct them and help them to grow their capability in dealing with an aviation accident. As ARFFS could not be provided at all airports, Airservices and its ARFF services could instead increase the capability of the local fire services.18

15 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 8.

16 Ms Michelle Bennetts, Airservices Australia and Ms Pip Spence, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Estimates Hansard, 26 February 2018, p. 126.

17 International Civil Aviation Organization, Doc 9137-AN/898: Airport Services Manual, Part 1— Rescue and Firefighting, Fourth Edition, 2015, p. 10-3.

18 Mr Jason Harfield, Airservices Australia, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committeee, Estimates Hansard, 22 May 2018, p. 113.

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5.23 The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) advised that the CASRs mandate the 'Interface Agreements between ARFF and state or territory fire brigades and/or other third-party providers'.19

5.24 Further, AFAC identified that the ARFFS operated under the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System (AIIMS), which was the nationally recognised system of incident management for fire and emergency service agencies.

5.25 An AIIMS Steering Group, which was established to provide 'greater assurance arrangements to aid the implementation of the AIIMS', was made up of representatives from the ARFFS, urban operations, rural operations, land management, State Emergency Service operations, community safety and learning and development bodies. In order to ensure operational readiness, the AIIMS structure was utilised to undertake regular exercises to:

…ensure a multi-agency response is available at Australian airports. These regular exercises form part of each Aerodrome or Airport Emergency Plan, with consideration given to all other appropriate jurisdictional emergency or disaster plans.20

5.26 AFAC went on to advise that the ARFFS developed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to 'ensure an adequate service delivery with other relevant jurisdictional emergency service agencies'. AFAC offered its support for the current structure of ARFF services, and noted that it was supported by 'appropriate planning, operational readiness and multi-agency training exercises at all airports'.21

5.27 Several jurisdictions detailed to the committee their interactions with ARRF services, as detailed below.

New South Wales 5.28 The NSW Government's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) advised the committee that Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), alongside the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS), provide—within their respective districts—fire and

emergency response capability to all airports in NSW. The OEM continued that:

Both fire services work collaboratively with emergency services, military and private resources at airports to ensure a comprehensive response to fires and other emergencies, including aviation incidents.22

19 Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, Submission 3, p. 3.

20 Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, Submission 3, p. 4.

21 Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, Submission 3, pp. 4-5.

22 New South Wales Government Office of Emergency Management, Submission 4, [p. 1].

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5.29 Further, FRNSW could become involved in aircraft incidents where hazardous materials were involved, as FRNSW was the 'combat agency for hazardous material incidents'.23

5.30 The OEM made the point that it was 'essential' that any operational response to emergencies at Australian airports consider the 'broader risk profile of the region'. The OEM noted that both FRNSW and the NSWRFS worked collaboratively with Airservices (or other private contractors) to ensure a comprehensive response to fire and other emergencies.24

5.31 The OEM observed that its 32 certified airports25 presented the greatest level of risk, due to the size and number of movements of aircraft. To deal with a significant aviation incident, the NSWRFS and FRNSW carried:

…both A and B class foam concentrates and recommend that [a] certified airport maintains a bulk supply of foam appropriate to size of the aircraft using the airport and of a type appropriate to the risk. This allows for an immediate and effective fire attack and fuel vapour suppression on the arrival of the first fire truck.26

Queensland 5.32 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) advised that Airservices provided ARFF services at nine Queensland airports, under a Memorandum of Arrangement between QFES and Airservices. The Arrangement stipulates the

operational arrangements for specified airports, and delineates the roles and responsibilities between the services. QFES observed that, in larger airports, the arrangements 'extend to substantial responsibility for business precincts within the airport boundary'.27

5.33 QFES offered its support for close collaboration between airport operators and ARFF providers, including via joint exercises, emergency planning and skills training.28

Stakeholder views 5.34 The UFUAB submitted that the MoUs entered into between the ARFFS and state fire services 'ensure a continued firefighting and rescue capability for

23 New South Wales Government Office of Emergency Management, Submission 4, [p. 1].

24 New South Wales Government Office of Emergency Management, Submission 4, [p. 1].

25 Certified airports are those which have been certified by CASA under the CASRs, which prescribe the requirements for aerodromes used in air transport operations. Certified aerodromes are used by aircraft of more than 30 passenger seats.

26 New South Wales Government Office of Emergency Management, Submission 4, [p. 1].

27 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Submission 14, p. 1.

28 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Submission 14, p. 1.

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large-scale incidents', whereby state fire services could offer immediately available resources. The UFUAB did note, however, that support from other fire services was not always possible in regional and remote areas where ARFF services were established.29

5.35 The UFUAB was of the view that Airservices had not given adequate consideration to the complexities and risk associated with ARFF service provision in regional and remote areas. Accordingly, the UFUAB argued that the ARFFS at such locations has to be resourced appropriately by Airservices, as a stand-alone service.30

5.36 The UFUAB further suggested that Airservices was reliant on state fire services to cover staff shortages within the ARFFS, despite a lack of guarantees from the state services as to availability of their staff and resources at any specific time—primarily due to the fact that the state services could be attending other emergencies. It was put forward by the UFUAB that ARFFS response planning was based on the best case scenarios, when the worst case should instead be considered to ensure an adequate response. The UFUAB therefore suggested that the ARFFS should:

…have the capability to manage the incident for far longer than is currently the practice in order to allow a realistic time frame for the arrival of the other services.31

5.37 Mr Hunter, of the UFUAB, noted that under the ICAO SARPs, all vehicles must be able to arrive at the emergency in less than four minutes; however, Mr Hunter continued that, on average, support from other fire services was 17 minutes away, and firefighting agent carried in these vehicles could be exhausted 'in as little as one minute and 30 seconds'. Mr Hunter raised a number of concerns about the reliance on other fire services, stating that the support vehicles:

…have no access, they do not have keys and they cannot enter or operate on an aerodrome without escort, under airport security regulations. It must be noted there are no hydrants on the taxiways or runways, and metropolitan fire services do not have enough water capacity to fill a single vehicle. A truck takes 15 minutes to refill from departing and returning to scene. This leaves a critical gap of anywhere from the six-minute point to the 17-minute point—an 11-minute pinch point or dead spot.32

29 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Remote stations), Submission 18, pp. 10-11.

30 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Remote stations), Submission 18, pp. 3, 16.

31 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 12.

32 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 1-2.

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5.38 Mr Barker further suggested that there were a number of incompatibilities between the metropolitan fire services and the ARFFS, including between equipment and procedures. Mr Barker suggested that in the event of an aircraft incident, the metropolitan services did not have 'the required aviation training, equipment and knowledge' to deal with the incident. Mr Barker concluded that 'aviation firefighters do not presume to be a Metropolitan Fire Fighter and vice versa'.33

5.39 The opposite view, however, was put forward by Mr Wood of Airservices. Mr Wood argued that while firefighters from a local fire service may not have expertise in aviation firefighting, in areas where there were no ARFFS established metropolitan or rural firefighters were able to respond to airport emergencies.34

33 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 24.

34 Mr Glenn Wood, Chief Fire Officer, Airservices Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 35.

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Chapter 6

Resourcing and administration of ARFFS in Australia

6.1 Throughout the inquiry, it was consistently noted that Airservices had not completed Task Resource Analyses (TRAs) to determine the adequate level of resourcing at ARFFS stations across Australia. This chapter provides details on the TRA process, and the views of stakeholders as to its importance for the ARFFS.

6.2 This chapter also considers various elements of the regulatory framework, including the oversight role of CASA. It also discusses a number of regulatory reviews undertaken by DIRDC and CASA regarding the appropriateness and adequacy of the ARFFS regulatory framework. The chapter concludes by presenting some overall views as to the provision of ARFFS in Australia by Airservices.

Task Resource Analysis 6.3 In 2013 and 2014, the ICAO SARPs were amended to recommend that, in determining the minimum number of aviation rescue and firefighting personnel required, 'a task resource analysis should be completed and the level

of staffing documented in the Aerodrome Manual'.1

6.4 ICAO states that the TRA should establish the minimum number of staff required to deliver an effective ARFFS, considering the worst-case scenario in an aviation incident. The TRA should also include a workload assessment, to determine the effectiveness of current staffing levels and 'to identify the level of improvement resulting from additional staffing'.2

6.5 There was significant support expressed for the TRA approach throughout the inquiry, to determine the appropriate amount of resourcing—both personnel and equipment—required for the ARFFS.

6.6 The UFUA described the TRA process (as it is written in the ICAO SARPs) as the following:

…a qualitative risk-based approach which focuses on probable and credible worst-case scenarios [and] seeks to identify the minimum

1 International Civil Aviation Organization, Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation: Aerodromes, Recommendation 9.2.45, as cited by United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 12.

2 International Civil Aviation Organization, Doc 9137-AN/898: Airport Services Manual, Part 1— Rescue and Firefighting, Fourth Edition, 2015, p. 10-3.

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number of personnel required to undertake identified tasks in real time before supporting external services are able to effectively assist ARFF personnel.3 [emphasis in original]

6.7 The UFUA submitted that both ICAO's Annex 14 and the NFPA 403 standard endorsed the use of a TRA in determining the minimum number of ARFF personnel at an airport. Indeed, it was submitted that ICAO had adopted the NFPA TRA model.4 The UFUA went further and suggested that the TRA be used to determine additional staffing requirements, over and above the minimum.5

6.8 Mr von Nida of the UFUAB noted that undertaking a TRA would allow for assessments of individual airports, and take into consideration the unique circumstances surrounding each airport, particularly airports in regional and remote areas. By way of example, Mr von Nida said:

…if you're in Newman and all you've got coming is a bunch of auxiliaries it should take that into account as a factor. If you're in, say, the Sunshine Coast where you've got three hospitals and 16 different fire services around there, it should take that into account. The cavalry are really coming on that occasion, as opposed to in Newman, where there is no cavalry. You're the cavalry.6

6.9 Mr Horton also described the importance of a TRA in helping the ARFFS to undertake effective rescue operations, by describing the processes involved in an emergency response:

So within three minutes the water has suppressed an aircraft fire. We are talking about a fire being fuelled by aviation fuel. On top of that—and this is where the task and the resource analysis comes in—you've got other tasks that need to be done, such as the rescue of the passengers and obtaining entry into a fuselage if entry has been prevented. That's additional staff who should be doing additional tasks. So we're not talking about the task resource analysis suddenly saying, 'You only need three people to do all of this.' You've got your bare minimum at the moment, according to ICAO standards, to be able to suppress the fire. It is all about rescuing the passengers and crew within the aircraft. It's about their survival. It's not just about saying, 'Yes, we put out the fire,' but everyone

3 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 11-12.

4 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 5.

5 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 12. The UFUAB noted that the TRA concept was introduced by ICAO in 2013; see Submission 17, p. 29.

6 Mr Mark von Nida, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 14.

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perished onboard; it is about achieving the saving of lives. That is what we are looking at with task resources analysis.7

6.10 Mr Hanson suggested that the TRA was an inexpensive, table-top exercise, 'designed to identify ''pinch points'' in operations where staffing resources may be deficient', and which would ensure the safe and effective operations of the ARFFS. Mr Hanson was of the view that the TRA process is:

…an extremely important issue for operational commanders. The provision of sufficient, well trained firefighters is fundamental to conducting safe and efficient fire ground operations.8

6.11 The UFUAB further argued for a TRA to be undertaken prior to any reduction in ARFFS staffing levels. Such an approach would also align with the requirements of the ICAO SARPs.9

6.12 This was considered particularly important in light of the fact that the TRA only considers the aviation component of an emergency response, and does not consider responses to, for example, emergencies in the terminal. Mr Hancox noted that this fact highlighted the issues with cross-crewing, when trying to determine the resources needed for an emergency response via a TRA.10

Use of the TRA in Australia 6.13 Evidence to the committee indicated that the TRA process was yet to be implemented formally in Australia, and had not yet taken place at the ARFFS locations across the country.

6.14 Mr Hanson noted that the justification for this noncompliance with ICAO standards by Australia was that the 'legislation does not specifically identify that a [TRA] should be completed to determine staffing numbers'. Mr Hanson suggested that this was a 'simplistic and subjective interpretation of the legislation', and said that:

The fact that there is no specific reference to staff justification in the legislation indicates there can be no inconsistency with the ICAO amendment.11

6.15 Mr Hanson went on to argue that, regardless of the binding nature of ICAO with regard to the TRA, it should be completed by Airservices as part of best

7 Mr Stephen Horton, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 15.

8 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 2.

9 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 24.

10 Mr John Hancox, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 16.

11 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 2.

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practice, and to address the discrepancy between current ARFFS staffing numbers, and those recommended by the NFPA.12

6.16 Mr Hunter advised the committee that the union had completed a TRA of its own, in light of its view that Airservices had not completed one. The TRA undertaken by the UFUAB was based on Brisbane Airport, and the final report was provided to the committee.13 Mr Hunter stated that, as a result of that TRA and using the minimum standards of ICAO, the union did not believe that the minimum standards for staffing numbers were being met by Airservices.14

6.17 The UFUAB cautioned, however, against 'incomplete and inaccurate' TRA models, which were based on assumptions developed using 'incorrect procedures and data'. Doing so, it was argued, could 'reduce the safety of aviation in Australia and the operational safety' of ARFFS firefighters.15

6.18 Overall, the UFUAB agreed with the assertion that if a TRA was completed by Airservices now, it may meet the minimum ICAO standards, but these standards may be inadequate to respond to an aviation event. The TRA would also not take into account domestic demands on the same crews and resources.16

Airservices' views 6.19 Airservices advised the legislation committee, in November 2018, that it supported the use of task resourcing analyses to determine ARFFS staffing levels, and had 'used this approach to underpin development of staffing levels

for many years'.17

12 Mr Andrew Hanson, Submission 16, p. 5.

13 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Task Resource Analysis - Brisbane ARFFS (tabled 16 April 2019), available at:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate /Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Aviationrescueservices/Additional_ Documents

14 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 10-11. At the time of the hearing, Mr Hunter advised that the UFUAB was in the process of finalising a Category 7 TRA for the Sunshine Coast Airport; see pg. 11.

15 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 25.

16 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 16.

17 Airservices Australia, correspondence to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for its inquiry into the Performance of Airservices Australia,

30 November 2018, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/

Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/AirservicesAustralia45/Addit ional_Documents.

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6.20 In response to concerns raised about staffing at specific airports, Airservices explained that the:

Current approved ARFFS staffing levels at Brisbane and Adelaide (and all other locations across Australia) were developed by Airservices, and approved by CASA, using a risk assessment process that is based on task resourcing.18

6.21 Airservices elaborated that it supported ICAO's TRA methodology, and that both it and CASA supported the introduction of the ICAO TRA methodology into the Australian regulatory framework. Airservices indicated that incorporation of the TRA method was being progressed as part of a current review into Subpart 139.H of the CASRs.19

6.22 Airservices confirmed that commencing in 2019, location-specific reviews would take place at every AFRRS location in Australia—including at Adelaide and Brisbane. Airservices would implement a TRA framework based on the latest ICAO guidance material, 'benchmarked against other international ARFFS providers'.20

6.23 Airservices informed the committee that it would be utilising the TRA framework to undertake the national review to 'ensure service delivery remains commensurate with the operating environment at each aerodrome'.21

Consultation 6.24 Firefighters and their union representatives made clear their views that Airservices was failing to properly engage in consultation, over the TRA process in particular, but also over other matters such as staffing changes.

6.25 The UFUAB indicated that it was 'vital' firefighters with a broad knowledge of operations were consulted when undertaking risk assessments. The UFUAB views the risk assessment phase as the best opportunity for experienced ARFFS officers to speak freely and provide details of their operational experience. However, the UFUAB suggested there was a lack of consultation by Airservices with the unions, arguing they were 'excluded completely' from

18 Airservices Australia, correspondence to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for its inquiry into the Performance of Airservices Australia, 30 November 2018.

19 Airservices Australia, correspondence to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for its inquiry into the Performance of Airservices Australia, 30 November 2018.

20 Airservices Australia, correspondence to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for its inquiry into the Performance of Airservices Australia, 30 November 2018.

21 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 12.

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such assessments, and that participants in risk assessments were 'cherry picked'.22

6.26 Mr Horton raised concerns over a lack of consultation between the union and Airservices when considering the implementation of TRAs at airports. Mr Horton advised that, for a number of years, the Aviation Branch of the union had been asking Airservices to complete TRAs to determine resourcing. However, Mr Horton indicated that Airservices was reluctant to consult:

It got to the point where the branch took Airservices to Fair Work Australia over lack of consultation. Airservices came back with a compromise: there could be one union representative. There was a committee looking at the trial of setting up the task resource analysis and Airservices would pick who that union representative was. That committee met once with the union representative on it. The union has received no documentation regarding the outcome of that process. There's no indication of whether actual task and resource analysis at individual airports—because it needs to happen at individual airports—will involve union consultation.23

6.27 The UFUAB confirmed that it had been invited by Airservices onto a TRA committee. However, since an initial meeting, the union had had no indication that Airservices was to consult further on the TRA process.24

6.28 It was further asserted that the unions were spending significant time dealing with the current 'confrontational environment' between it and Airservices, with 'a dispute every week'. Mr Hunter suggested that this situation should be resolved, as it was 'not productive for anyone', and did note that since the commencement of this inquiry, consultation between the union and Airservices had improved.25

6.29 Mr Walker of CASA advised that a technical working group, established under CASA's Aviation Safety Advisory Panel to consider amendments to the MOS, had over 600 interested parties registered with it. Mr Walker stated that 'Airservices, obviously the UFU and any other interested parties' would be invited to attend and participate in the technical working groups, prior to public consultation on amendments to the MOS.26

22 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 27.

23 Mr Steve Horton, United Firefighters Union of Australia, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 13.

24 Mr Mark von Nida and Mr Stephen Horton, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, pp. 12, 15.

25 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, pp. 24-25.

26 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 24.

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Regulatory reviews 6.30 In recent years, a number of reviews have been completed into Australia's regulatory framework for the provision of ARFFS. Some of the outcomes of these reviews offer support for better adherence to international standards,

and would assist in effective implementation of the TRA process. These reviews are detailed below.

2015 Regulatory Policy Review 6.31 In December 2015, the DIRDC released a Regulatory Policy Review (Review) discussion paper, which considered what should be the appropriate criteria for the establishment of an ARFFS, including both higher and lower passenger

numbers.

6.32 As part of the Review, DIRDC was asked to consider the use of risk assessments, rather than the current 'hard trigger' requirement for the establishment of an ARFF service (the 350 000 passenger threshold).27

6.33 The Review found that a passenger threshold number lower than 350 000 passengers was not supported, and suggested that available ARFFS resources should be targeted to major passenger airports. Further, it was noted that lowering the threshold would only marginally improve ARFFS coverage across the system because:

…there would be a relatively small increase in the total percentage of passengers covered…but there would be a significant cost imposition on regional airlines which could adversely affect the level of airline services to regional airports.28

6.34 The Review instead recommended that passenger numbers should be used as a trigger for a risk review, rather than be used for the automatic requirement for the provision of ARFFS. DIRDC advised that this was the preferred approach, as the current approach did not 'allow for consideration of the likelihood or consequence of an incident occurring at a particular location for determining whether ARFFS resources should be deployed'. DIRDC further stated that:

Factors such as safety measures already in place (e.g. the nature of air traffic control services), the variety of operations undertaken at the location and geographic factors affecting access to the site are not currently considered, and as a result resources are not allocated according to safety risk.29

27 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 6.

28 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 7.

29 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 7.

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6.35 DIRDC advised that the regulatory reform package arising from the Review determined that risk reviews would be used to determine whether to establish ARFFS at airports, using the introduction of scheduled international passenger air services and total number of passenger movements—500 000 over a rolling 12 months—as triggers for undertaking the risk review.30

6.36 Further, risk reviews would be used to determine whether to disestablish ARFFS at airports with passenger movements falling below 400 000 and remaining below this level for 12 months, or the withdrawal of international services, as triggers for the risk review.31

6.37 However, in June 2018, Minister McCormack adjusted the regulatory reforms, such that the passenger number trigger for risk assessments remained at 350 000—rather than increase to 500 000 as proposed—and for disestablishment, remained at 300 000 rather than 400 000.32

6.38 Other recommendations of the Review included:

 improving and modernising the regulatory framework, including the regulations and the associated MOS, by replacing prescriptive requirements with a systems and outcome-based approach underpinned by the ARFFS provider having an SMS approved and audited by CASA;

 clarifying the roles and arrangements with the state and territory fire services and the airport operator in relation to the provision of ARFFS; and  maintaining arrangements at existing ARFFS locations, including that it would not be necessary to undertake a disestablishment risk review for an

existing ARFFS unless the total number of passengers falls below the existing disestablishment threshold of 300 000 in the twelve month period.33

6.39 The outcomes of the Review are currently being implemented via changes to CASR Subpart 139.H and the associated MOS. DIRDC advised that draft regulations would be released for comment during 2019.34 CASA also advised that drafted amendments to the MOS would be provided for broad consultation with industry.35

30 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 8.

31 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 8.

32 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 8.

33 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 8.

34 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Submission 9, p. 8.

35 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 24.

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6.40 Airservices noted that it was working with both DIRDC and CASA to implement the outcomes of the 2015 Review, by amending Part 139.H and the associated MOS.36

Responses to the Review 6.41 The Australian Airline Pilots' Association (AusALPA) was of the view that implementation of the recommendations of the Review would diminish aviation safety standards in Australia, and make Australia 'even less

compliant' with the ICAO SARPs. AusALPA also questioned whether CASA was equipped with the relevant expertise with which to conduct risk assessments for the ARFFS, particularly given the rarity of aircraft incidents in Australia.37

6.42 AusALPA further suggested that there would be other serious ramifications to adopting the recommendations:

Australia would risk not only failing to meet its international obligations, but also could cause serious harm to its international reputation should a fatal aircraft accident, involving multiple loss of life, occur at an airport where insufficient or no ARFFS provision was shown to be a major contributory factor in the non-survivability of that event.38

6.43 The UFUAB likewise suggested that implementation of the Review's recommendations would 'see the standard of ARFFS in Australia' decline, particularly in rural and regional areas where ARFF services would be reduced or not provided in the foreseeable future.39

6.44 Mr von Nida voiced serious concerns over the proposal to increase the passenger threshold to 500 000, as suggested by the Review. Mr von Nida suggested such an increase would move Australia further away from the ICAO standards, and compared the Australian establishment trigger to those overseas:

When you look around the world, you've got the UK, where every certified airport has an ARFF service of some type. In the US, anything with 12 seats and above has a fire service. If you look at New Zealand, for 30 seats and above there's a fire service. In Canada, get more than 180,000 passengers through the gate and you get a fire service.40

36 Airservices Australia, answers to questions taken on notice, 16 April 2019 (received 21 May 2019).

37 Australian Airline Pilots' Association, Submission 21, pp. 1, 4-5.

38 Australian Airline Pilots' Association, Submission 21, p. 2.

39 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, p. 21.

40 Mr Mark von Nida, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 20 March 2019, p. 10.

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6.45 The Australian Airports Association (AAA) advised that in submitting to the Review, it was largely supportive of the shift to risk-based assessments, in conjunction with the revised passenger threshold triggers. The AAA suggested that these approaches recognise the increased passenger numbers at airports, and 'signalled a move towards more outcomes-based regulation in line with international best practice'. Despite the later announcement by Minister McCormack, the AAA remained supportive of the suggested risk assessment process, as it would allow a number of relevant factors to be considered, rather than just passenger numbers in isolation.41

6.46 Airservices wrote to DIRDC as part of the Review, offering its support for improved regulatory settings for ARFFS, and in particular for the shift to a risk-based assessment approach for the establishment and disestablishment of ARFF services. Airservices remarked that the use of the hard trigger could be 'improved through consideration of the operational environment of each airport'.42

General concerns with the establishment threshold 6.47 The UFUA suggested that, rather than passenger numbers—an 'arbitrary threshold figure'—the type of aircraft utilising an aerodrome should be used to determine whether ARFF services were provided. An ARFFS would therefore

be established via a risk assessment, as opposed to a threshold trigger. The UFUA argued that such an approach could 'meaningfully model' the consequences of—for example—an aircraft crash, and was therefore preferable to the current approach which could not anticipate the worst case scenario.43

6.48 Further, the UFUA argued that a number of airports in Australia with significant aircraft movements (over 200 000 aircraft movements each year, such as at Bankstown or Moorabin), but with fewer passenger movements, did not have an ARFFS. The UFUA questioned this approach, asking whether 'these busy airports, surrounded by residential suburban housing' should have ARFF services.44

6.49 The UFUA continued that a number of other countries applied a 'more rigorous standard' than Australia to the establishment of ARFFS. For example,

41 Australian Airports Association, Submission 12, p. 2.

42 Airservices Australia submission to the Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Regulatory Policy Review, 11 February 2016,

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/arffs/files/Airservices_Australia.pdf (accessed 9 July 2019).

43 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 6, 8. The UFUA drew attention to fluctuating passenger numbers at the Coffs Harbour and Ballina Airports to highlight its concerns with this issue; see p. 8.

44 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 8.

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all licenced airports in the UK had ARFF provisions, and most licenced airports in the USA and New Zealand also had established ARFF services. The UFUA stated that:

If Australia were to adopt the formula used by any of these other nations, more Australian airports would provide ARFF services, in turn ensuring a safer airport experience for more domestic and international travellers.45

Post-implementation review - Subpart 139.H 6.50 In 2007, following implementation of CASR Subpart 139.H in 2005, CASA undertook to complete a post-implementation review (PIR) of the rules that would 'look at ensuring the rules were effective in protecting the delivery of a

safe ARFF service for the benefit of the travelling public'.46

6.51 CASA stated that over time, it had 'become aware of some issues that could be better addressed' by the CASR, and further noted that the recommendations of the 2015 Review by DIRDC required amendments to the rules. CASA also saw the PIR as an opportunity to better align Australian rules with current ICAO standards and international best practice, and to incorporate technological improvements.47

6.52 The PIR would consider a number of matters, including (but not limited to):

 the key challenges facing the industry, in order to propose policy improvements;  a gap analysis between the existing CASR Subpart 139.H and the associated MOS against the Chicago Convention and its Annexes, to ensure the MOS

continues to meet Australia's international responsibilities to ICAO;  a review of existing draft amendments to the MOS to reconcile these against the gap analysis;  the approach taken by other regulators internationally; and  the training and qualification framework for aviation firefighters.48

6.53 In July 2018, CASA advised that the legal drafting of the CASR amendments and the MOS was underway, which, after review by the independent Aviation

45 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 6-7.

46 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Project AS 07/14 - Post-implementation review (PIR) - Subpart 139.H

- Aerodrome rescue and firefighting services, 31 July 2018, https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/project-0714-post-implementation-review-pir-aerodrome-rescue-and-firefighting-services (accessed 21 June 2019).

47 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Project AS 07/14 - Post-implementation review (PIR) - Subpart 139.H - Aerodrome rescue and firefighting services, 31 July 2018.

48 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Project AS 07/14 - Post-implementation review (PIR) - Subpart 139.H - Aerodrome rescue and firefighting services, 31 July 2018.

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Safety Advisory Panel, would be released for public consultation prior to final drafting.49

6.54 CASA also advised that under its current review of Subpart 139.H, proposed changes would include additional requirements for ARFFS providers to apply the ICAO resourcing model at each ARFFS location.50

Concerns with the regulatory framework 6.55 Despite these reviews and their suggestions to improve the ARRFS regulatory structure, submitters raised concerns that the regulations were outdated and not aligned with international best practice.

6.56 For example, Mr Kiegan Rice noted that the MOS had been subject to the PIR process since 2007, and further suggested that it had been 14 years since the MOS was updated. Mr Rice contended that in this time, Annex 14 to the Chicago Convention had been updated 11 times, and therefore CASA was not supporting Australia in its adherence to Convention commitments. Mr Rice expressed concern over Australia's lack of adherence to the recommended practices, and was of the personal view that:

…decision makers within the ARFFS believe that ICAO SARPS is split between the standards: certain standards that must be adhered to, and recommended practices which are nice to adhere to…Australian civil aviation strives for world best practice - shouldn’t we be aiming to adhere to all recommended practices?51

6.57 Mr Rice put forward his views for addressing these concerns, including finalisation of the MOS Review and update, and clearer understanding and advice from ARFFS operational standards and performance teams that the MOS is required to be read in conjunction with the ICAO publications.52

6.58 Mr Hancox went further and suggested that there be a 'full rewrite of the regulations completed as soon as possible', in order to the align them with current international standards and recommendations. Mr Hancox argued that such a rewrite was 'years overdue'.53

General views on the provision of ARFF services 6.59 There were divided views as to the overall efficacy of Australia's ARFF services, as well as its adherence to international standards.

49 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Project AS 07/14 - Post-implementation review (PIR) - Subpart 139.H - Aerodrome rescue and firefighting services, 31 July 2018.

50 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 2.

51 Mr Kiegan Rice, Submission 24, [p. 1].

52 Mr Kiegan Rice, Submission 24, [p. 2].

53 Mr John Hancox, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 3.

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6.60 It was CASA's view that there was 'no evidence' to suggest that ARFF services had been compromised in any way that 'could reasonably be seen to impact negatively on Australia's reputation or safety record'.54

6.61 Similarly, the AAA expressed 'no concerns' regarding the standards for ARFF services, or the performance of Airservices in its ARFFS operations. It was the view of the AAA that Airservices undertook its functions in a 'professional, effective and collaborative manner', ensuring that incidents were responded to as quickly as possible.55

6.62 Conversely, the UFUAB expressed concerns that Australia's ARFFS was no longer adhering to operational best practice, and was instead operating in accordance with a business model and looking for ways to cut services.56

6.63 The UFUAB was of the view that Australia had 'without a doubt the worst ARFFS safety regulations in the world, with nearly 300 unprotected airports' and an excessively high establishment threshold of 350 000 passengers. The UFUAB concluded that:

Right now is the time to act to prevent any changes to Australian ARFFS regulations that will take us even further away from internationally accepted standards.57

6.64 Mr Hunter, of the UFUAB, made clear his views that the Airservices approach to safety was based on business and industrial models which were 'not suited to the provision of emergency services'. Mr Hunter expanded on his views, suggesting that the Airservices approach allowed for:

…risk to be reduced based on likelihood [of an emergency], which allows them to manipulate the outcomes. Whilst this works in most industries, it is not relevant to an emergency services provider. ARFF should be based on the assumption that there is an event, not the likelihood. It assumes the worst plausible case scenario. The baseline for this event is and must always be 'catastrophic'.58

Performance of CASA 6.65 A number of submitters and witnesses were of the view that CASA is not providing effective regulatory oversight of Airservices and its provision of ARFF services.

54 Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Submission 7, p. 3.

55 Australian Airports Association, Submission 12, p. 2.

56 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch (Brisbane ARFFS safety review), Submission 19, p. 28.

57 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Submission 17, pp. 31, 33.

58 Mr Justin Hunter, United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch, Committee Hansard, 16 April 2019, p. 1.

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6.66 The UFUA voiced its strong concerns over CASA's role as the regulatory body for ARFF services, suggesting that CASA was 'reluctant to investigate and act' on what it perceived as a 'continual failure' by Airservices to provide and maintain category levels at aerodromes, alongside other ARFF regulatory breaches. The UFUA suggested that this 'failure' was a result of ARFF crew being utilised in responses to off-airport emergencies, or for 'non-operational extraneous duties', leading to reduced staffing levels and an inability to maintain category at an aerodrome.59

6.67 It was the view of the UFUA that Subpart 139.H of the CASR 'falls significantly short of the international standard' for the provision of ARFF services, and identified a number of exemptions which had been granted to Airservices by CASA (such as an exemption to reduce the frequency of foam application training from every 90 days to every 180 days).60

6.68 The UFUA called for an independent review of the CASRs, which would serve as an opportunity to 'better align the CASRs and MOS with international best practice and current ICAO standards', while taking into consideration the NFPA 403 standard as best practice, and the views of ARFF and firefighting experts.61

6.69 Regarding dispensations from adherence to the regulations, DIRDC confirmed to the committee that the Department could not require CASA to issue an exemption to Airservices, and could not prevent CASA from doing so. However, if it was later identified that there were issues with a granted exemption, DIRDC would work with CASA and take the lead 'if an amendment to legislation or regulation were needed to require changes to the way in which CASA was undertaking its functions'.62

6.70 Ms Spence of DIRDC confirmed that at this time, there was no evidence to suggest that there were any issues with the accuracy and efficacy of ARFFS decision-making, and the Department was confident that the appropriate and correct decisions had been made.63

6.71 According to Mr Walker, Airservices voluntarily and regularly informs CASA as to its ARFFS activities, and that when a concern was raised by the unions, that was 'fully explored'. Mr Walker continued that, in that instance, a risk

59 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 1, 13.

60 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, pp. 12-13.

61 United Firefighters Union of Australia, Submission 10, p. 14.

62 Ms Pip Spence, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 19.

63 Ms Pip Spence, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 20.

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assessment or safety case was sought from Airservices by CASA. Following that, the safety case was:

…assessed and analysed by our technical experts. We have a team within the air navigation and aerodromes branch who are ARFF specialists; many of them have actually been active ARFF members historically. They conduct the assessment. If CASA satisfies itself that the safety case meets the requirement, then permission is granted to proceed. If required, an exemption may or may not be issued. If further work is required, that is sought from Airservices. It's not unusual, though, for that to occur or for CASA to determine that it's not satisfied that it is safe to do so.64

6.72 Mr Brad Parker, Acting Branch Manager, Air Navigation, Airspace and Aerodromes, CASA, confirmed that any changes by Airservices to its operations manual did not need to involve CASA, as the manual was an internal Airservices document. Airservices were able to make changes, and then advise CASA. Mr Parker noted that CASA would then undertake a review, and CASA 'does have the power to instruct the service provider to revert to what they were doing before or something else'.65

Performance of Airservices 6.73 Strong views were put forward as to the performance of Airservices in its provision of ARRFS.

6.74 For example, Mr Barker submitted that Airservices had 'an appetite for risk', while ignoring calls from ARFF personnel for 'more staff, more resources and better compliance' with the regulatory framework. Mr Barker also suggested the lack of a serious aircraft incident in Australia may have led to a sense of complacency:

Although ARFF have responded to many aviation incidents, Australia is ‘lucky’ to have avoided a major aircraft crash or incident. This complacency has infiltrated Airservices and decisions are being made based on the likelihood of ‘nothing’ happening rather than ‘in all probability, one day it will’.66

6.75 Mr Hancox commented that there was a disconnect between Airservices management, and front-line ARFF staff. Mr Hancox suggested that a corporate mindset from Airservices compromised the safety of operational staff, as did a 'compromised relationship' between CASA and Airservices management.67 Mr Hancox argued that ARFF staff are frustrated with Airservices management, and that:

64 Mr Rob Walker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 25.

65 Mr Brad Parker, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2019, p. 31.

66 Mr Glen Barker, Submission 22, p. 3.

67 Mr John Hancox, Submission 25, [p. 1].

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…safety critical issues are ignored or aren’t being fixed in appropriate timeframes. This seriously impedes operations and is a WHS issue for staff…Management need to be accountable and transparent if they are to regain our trust.68

6.76 Further, Mr Tim Limmer felt that there was a 'disappointing level of care and concern for the genuine safety and wellbeing' of ARFFS firefighters.69

6.77 The sentiments expressed by submitters and witnesses were not shared by Airservices. Airservices took the view that it provides ARFF services 'at or above the regulated category requirement at every fire station'. Airservices went on to state that:

By effectively utilising capacity established to meet regulated ARRFS requirements, Airservices has been able to maintain the required category level to ensure an immediate response to an aircraft emergency while also providing non-regulated services such as first aid response and mutual aid to other fire services.70

6.78 As part of its submission, Airservices presented information which indicated that, for each of the 26 ARFFS airports, staffing was provided at either the CASA-approved level, or above this level (in a combination of officers and firefighters).

6.79 For example, Airservices indicated that Adelaide Airport (during curfew) and Melbourne Airport had more staff than was required by CASA. Additionally, Brisbane and Perth Airports were staffed at Category 10 levels, for Category 10 aircraft operations (such as A380s).71

6.80 Airservices further suggested that it had developed performance targets, aimed at ensuring that ARFFS vehicles, firefighting agents and firefighters for the required category were available to:

…meet the regulated response times 99.9% of the time the service is available. This means additional resources are provided at some locations over and above the regulatory standard so that ARFFS can respond to other regulated (e.g. fire alarm activations) and non-regulated (e.g. requests for first aid assistance) emergencies while still maintaining category at or above 99.9%.72

6.81 Airservices pointed out that it had consistently maintained its service performance in line with its performance targets, achieving 99.93 per cent in 2017, and 99.94 per cent in 2018. The performance targets were applied

68 Mr John Hancox, Submission 25.1, [p. 1].

69 Mr Tim Limmer, Submission 20, [p. 6].

70 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 5.

71 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, pp. 13-14 (Appendix A).

72 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 5.

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across all locations, to allow Airservices to 'better understand key impacts on maintaining service delivery', and where resources over and above the regulatory standard might be provided.73

6.82 Airservices further noted that its operations were exceeding regulatory standards in a number of areas. Airservices pointed to the following as examples of this:

 staffing over the CASA-approved staffing level at some locations, including Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne;  in some locations, having up to 100 per cent more firefighting agent than required by the regulatory standard;  ARFFS coverage beyond the regulated hours of operation at Sydney and

Adelaide Airports; and  firefighting (‘front line’ foam producing) vehicles in excess of the number required to deliver the service (the operational requirement is for

approximately 75 vehicles compared to an overall current fleet number of 90 vehicles).74

Comparison with international standards 6.83 Airservices noted that, as part of its operating model, it regularly compares Australian ARFFS with the safety standards and practices implemented by ARFF services internationally. By doing so, Airservices stated that it was able

to remain aware of the latest research, industry changes and the 'impacts and benefits of emerging technologies', while working cohesively with international peers in training and the exchange of information related to ARFFS.75

6.84 Despite this approach, Airservices noted that it was difficult to draw comparisons between Australian and other ARFF services, 'as the operating environment, regulatory framework and ownership structures vary across jurisdictions'. Airservices suggested that Subpart 139.H of the CASR was more extensive than its international counterparts, requiring the ARFFS to comply with a broader range of safety standards.76

6.85 Similar views were put forward by DIRDC. In a letter dated 18 May 2018 to the legislation committee, DIRDC advised that differences filed with ICAO were subjective as to how each member state meets a particular standard. DIRDC highlighted that Australia was ranked sixth with ICAO and against other member states for the effective implementation of safety oversight

73 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 5.

74 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 11.

75 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 9.

76 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, p. 9.

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arrangements. DIRDC argued that the number of differences filed was 'not an appropriate indicator of Australia's commitment to international standards or the safety of our aviation system'.77

6.86 Airservices described its processes for researching other regulatory and industry standards:

Airservices approach to international standards is to analyse their applicability to the broader environment here in Australia, consider their relationship to the regulations, consider their validity and where merit can be demonstrated, adopt or adapt elements of them.

For example, elements of ARFFS vehicle design and performance and training frameworks have been drawn from NFPA standards.78

77 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, correspondence regarding notification of differences to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, 18 May 2018 (tabled 22 May 2018).

78 Airservices Australia, Submission 11, pp. 9-10.

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Chapter 7

Committee views and recommendations

7.1 The vital role of aviation rescue and firefighting services in keeping flying passengers and crew safe should not be underestimated. A properly resourced and trained ARFFS is critical in optimising the chances of survival for travellers and crew, should the worst happen in an aviation accident.

7.2 The ARFFS also plays a fundamental role in responding to various emergencies across aerodromes, such as terminal fires, alarm activations and medical emergencies, where the ARFFS is able to promptly administer first aid and save lives.

7.3 Australia has thus far not experienced the worst of aviation accidents, and the committee hopes that this continues to be the case well into the future. It was made evident to the committee that adequate staffing and resourcing of ARFFS, as well as adequate time in which to respond to an emergency, were all key elements in reducing the risk of a catastrophic aviation incident taking place in this country.

7.4 The committee acknowledges that in many instances, Australia is meeting the minimum ICAO standards; whether these standards are appropriate for the Australian context—and for specific Australian aerodromes—is another consideration. Evidence to the inquiry made clear that there are a number of serious and ongoing concerns with the provision of ARFFS by Airservices across the 26 aerodromes at which it operates, which put the key elements of ARFF services at risk. These concerns, and the committee's recommendations, are detailed below.

International standards 7.5 The Chicago Convention and the ICAO framework, to which Australia is a signatory, sets the relevant ARFF standards to which Australia should aim to adhere, as far as is reasonably practicable. Other organisations, such as the

NFPA, have also developed stringent criteria for the delivery of effective aviation rescue and firefighting services.

7.6 Despite this, Australia has lodged a number of differences with ICAO, which reflect Australia's unique requirements. It was argued consistently during the inquiry that Australia's regulatory framework—the CASRs, the MOS and other operating documents therefore do not adhere to international standards.

7.7 It was argued that this lack of adherence significantly increases the risks associated with ARFFS operations, and therefore increases the risks to the travelling public and aircrews.

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7.8 The committee supports CASA reviewing and revising the CASRs, in light of the issues identified by the 2015 Review and the post-implementation review of Subpart 139.H. However, the committee notes that despite CASA's post-implementation review first commencing in 2007, drafted amendments to Subpart 139.H have not yet been released for public consultation. The committee views this as far too long a period in which to complete the review and amend the CASRs.

7.9 A considerable amount of time has lapsed since CASA's review commenced, and very significant concerns have been raised during this inquiry about Australia's lack of adherence to international standards, and the inherent risk this presents to the travelling public. The committee therefore recommends that the government undertake a major and wide-ranging review into Australia's adherence to the ICAO SARPs, as they relate to ARFFS. This review should consider the Australian regulatory framework—including the CASRs and the MOS—against international best practice, and consider Australia's adherence to Chapter 9 of Annex 14 of the Chicago Convention.

7.10 The review should consider any other relevant regulations, standards and procedures as required, such as those of the NFPA, and, when non-compliance with international standards is identified, reasons for this should be provided.

Recommendation 1

7.11 The committee recommends that the Australian Government conduct a review of Australia's adherence to the International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommended Practices for the provision of Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services in Australia. The review should consider:

 Subpart 139.H of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998;  the associated Manual of Standards;  Australia's adherence to Chapter 9 of Annex 14 of the Chicago Convention; and

 any other relevant regulations, standards and procedures (including those issued by the National Fire Protection Association).

Where the review identifies non-compliance with international standards, the rationale for this should be explained.

ARFFS equipment and resources 7.12 The committee was concerned to hear about the considerable issues ARFFS firefighters have with the equipment, training and facilities currently in place for the ARFF service across Australia.

7.13 In particular, the committee was alarmed by the removal of rescue saws from operation, despite no replacement for the saws having yet been identified, and

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despite the fact that the removal meant the ARFFS was no longer compliant with the MOS. Such equipment is vital for effective responses to aviation incidents, where time is of the essence.

7.14 Further, the implementation of training for firefighters on ladders below two metres remains an ongoing concern for the committee. While the committee acknowledges the work health and safety concerns raised by Airservices, the fact remains that this limited-height training is not reflective of operational conditions—particularly for larger aircraft. The committee trusts that Airservices will continue to look at ways that allow firefighters to train safely at height as soon as possible, whether that is via harnesses or other systems.

7.15 The ARFFS fire vehicle replacement program also appears to be taking some time to come to fruition, and is still in the early stages of a request for information after what appear to be significant delays. Noting the suggestion that ARFFS stations are already having to share vehicles, and that local manufacturers may not be able to develop these vehicles, the committee encourages Airservices to ensure that the replacement program progresses as a matter of priority.

7.16 Notwithstanding the removal of, or amendments to, the equipment and vehicles in use by ARFFS, Australia should maintain compliance with international standards and Australian regulations as far as is practicable. Firefighters strongly asserted throughout the inquiry that a lack of adherence to relevant international and other standards was placing both their safety, and the safety of others, at risk.

7.17 Given the recent changes to equipment, issues with fire vehicles, and the serious concerns raised by firefighters regarding adherence to ICAO and other standards, the committee recommends that a full audit be undertaken of the adherence of ARFFS equipment and vehicles to ICAO standards, the CASRs and the MOS. In completing the audit, consideration should be given as to whether the equipment and vehicles in place are appropriate for the aerodrome category.

Recommendation 2

7.18 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority conduct an audit of all Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS) vehicles and equipment currently in operation across Australia, to determine the level of compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards, and associated Australian regulations and standards (such as the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 and the Manual of Standards). The audit should consider whether the vehicles and equipment adhere to the relevant ARFFS airport category at each aerodrome.

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Firefighting foams 7.19 The committee was alarmed by the evidence regarding firefighting foams, and the fact that the foams in use at Australian airports may not have been tested to Australian standards. The committee notes that ICAO's international

framework for testing foams may not be suitable for the conditions at local aerodromes.

7.20 Given the higher ambient temperatures in Australia, and the lack of evidence indicating whether these foams had been tested in such conditions, it appears to the committee that the foams should be tested to ensure they provide appropriate protection for Australian travellers in the event of an aviation incident.

7.21 The committee therefore recommends that CASA (in conjunction with any other relevant organisation, such as Airservices) institute a testing program for firefighting foams in use at Australian airports, utilising the ICAO testing framework as a starting point, to determine the efficacy of the foams under Australia's unique conditions.

Recommendation 3

7.22 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority implement a testing program for the firefighting foams in use at Australian airports, in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines. The testing should take place under conditions unique to Australia (such as higher ambient temperatures), to establish whether the foams operate effectively to extinguish aviation fires.

Staffing levels and task resource analyses 7.23 A matter of great importance to the committee was the issue of adequate staffing at ARFFS stations, particularly against aerodrome category. It seems counterintuitive that firefighting crews may be reduced at a time when

passenger numbers are only increasing. It does not appear appropriate to the committee that staffing reductions should be taking place.

7.24 A well-trained and fully-staffed ARFFS will be essential in maintaining Australia's aviation safety record. Having the ARFFS crewed to an appropriate level will allow it to respond to aviation emergencies in a timely manner, and without additional risks to crews or travellers.

7.25 The committee therefore expresses its considerable concern that no clear evidence could be provided demonstrating that a comprehensive safety assessment was completed by Airservices (and subsequently approved by CASA), prior to the reduction in ARFF crew numbers at Brisbane Airport. The committee acknowledges that the crew levels at Brisbane may be in accordance with the category of the airport, but without the support of a thorough safety

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assessment, it could not be ascertained whether this level of staffing was safe— rather than just adequate.

7.26 The committee welcomed the advice from Airservices that it would undertake a TRA prior to making any staffing adjustments at Adelaide Airport. However, given the substantial volume of aircraft movements which occur at that airport during curfew, the committee is of the firm view that no reductions in staffing should be made at Adelaide Airport. The committee would not be surprised to learn that the TRA in fact supports an increase to crew numbers at Adelaide.

Cross-crewing 7.27 The committee holds great concerns over the practice of cross-crewing. While the committee holds no doubts as to the ability of ARFFS crew and officers to attend to a variety of emergencies, the committee is of the view that ARFFS

staff should not be put in the stressful situation of having to attend multiple emergency events, while trying to maintain category.

7.28 Airservices even acknowledged that, with a base crew of 14 staff, a Category 10 response may not be able to be maintained if the DRV was attending to a first aid call.

7.29 Airlines are paying for a service at ARFFS aerodromes, and it is reasonable for the airlines to expect that category is maintained. Cross-crewing could therefore take away the confidence of international airlines in the ability of Australia to respond to emergencies and maintain category. Despite the fact that airlines are paying for the service, the safety of the flying public remains paramount, and airlines should have confidence that Australian aerodromes can maintain category.

7.30 As discussed below, the committee urges Airservices to undertake the TRA assessments at ARFFS stations as soon as is practicable, in order to properly ascertain the impact of cross-crewing on the ability of ARFF services to maintain category, and adequately respond to aviation emergencies.

Task resource analysis 7.31 The committee recognises that staffing profiles cannot address every possible risk in the aviation sector, and that the allocation of resources needs to be proportionate to the assessed level of risk. To this end, the TRA is an

invaluable tool in ensuring that the ARFFS is suitably resourced to perform its functions in the event of the worst-case emergency.

7.32 However, it was apparent that Airservices had yet to fully implement the TRA process which had been incorporated into the ICAO standards a number of years ago.

7.33 The committee therefore welcomes the advice of Airservices, that it and CASA both support the introduction of the ICAO TRA standards into the Australian regulatory framework. The committee was also pleased to hear that

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Airservices would look to utilise the TRA framework at every ARFFS location, commencing this year.

7.34 The committee also notes that CASA has indicated that its proposed changes to Subpart 139.H include additional requirements for ARFFS providers to apply the ICAO resourcing model at each ARFFS location. The committee supports this approach, and hopes that CASA progresses its amendments to the regulations as a matter of some urgency.

7.35 Given the demonstrated importance of the TRA process, and the support for the TRA from all key stakeholders, the committee recommends that CASA continue with its proposed amendment to the CASRs, and mandate that the TRA process—as prescribed by ICAO—is used at all ARFFS aerodromes to determine the suitable staffing levels at each aerodrome. In undertaking the TRA, consideration should be given to the category of the airport.

Recommendation 4

7.36 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority mandates that Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS) providers use the Task Resource Analysis (TRA) methodology, as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, to determine the suitable staffing levels for ARFFS at all aerodromes in Australia where an ARFFS is provided. The TRA should take into consideration the category of each aerodrome.

Consultation 7.37 There were concerns raised consistently during the inquiry that changes to staff numbers had occurred without appropriate consultation by Airservices with operational experts.

7.38 A number of firefighters made the point that firefighters with a broad range of knowledge and skills were well placed to consider risks within the ARFFS framework. However, it was suggested that Airservices were excluding such key personnel from consultation and risk assessment processes.

7.39 This was evidenced by the fact that Airservices had not heeded the calls from the UFUA and other bodies, over a number of years, to undertake the TRA process at ARFFS stations. Concerns were also raised over the fact that there was a lack of publicly available documentation regarding risk assessments and other processes.

7.40 The committee views consultation by Airservices with firefighting crews on the ground as vital to the development of effective TRAs, which accurately reflect the reality of delivering aviation emergency services. Constructive and collaborative consultation is also key to ensuring the best outcomes for all parties, as it allows for a suitable contest of ideas.

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7.41 The committee therefore recommends that CASA mandate that the TRA process must involve appropriate consultation by Airservices with ARFFS staff and officers (and where necessary, their union representatives), at all stages of the TRA process. This consultation should be transparent, and the outcomes of any meetings made publicly available as soon as is practicable.

Recommendation 5

7.42 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority mandate that the Task Resource Analysis (TRA) process undertaken by Airservices must involve appropriate consultation, via the direct engagement of Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting staff and officers at all stages of the TRA process. The consultation should be transparent, and the outcomes made publicly available as soon as is practicable.

Legislating staffing levels 7.43 It became apparent during the inquiry that changes to staffing levels in ARFFS crews could occur without appropriate oversight, via changes to regulations and operating procedures. This has resulted in calls for ARFFS staffing levels

to be legislated.

7.44 Legislating for staffing levels would limit the ease with which staffing amendments can occur. Such amendments could move Australia further away from the ICAO standards, and the recommended NFPA standards.

7.45 Legislating for appropriate staff levels also means that the provision of ARFF staff at each aerodrome cannot be changed without parliamentary scrutiny, and without engagement of the relevant stakeholders. It would also seem appropriate to the committee that the staffing levels placed in legislation reflect the outcomes of the TRA process at each aerodrome.

7.46 The committee is therefore of the view that the staffing levels against each aerodrome category for the provision of ARFFS should be enshrined in legislation, and recommends that the government introduce legislation which stipulates the minimum ARFFS staffing level against aerodrome category. The legislation should apply to all aerodromes where an ARFF service is provided, and should take into consideration the findings of TRAs conducted at each ARFFS airport.

Recommendation 6

7.47 The committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce legislation which stipulates the minimum Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) staffing level in accordance with airport category, at all Australian aerodromes where an ARFF service is provided. The legislated staffing levels should reflect the outcomes of the Task Resource Analysis at each aerodrome.

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ARRFS establishment threshold 7.48 Since the 2015 Regulation Policy Review, there has been ongoing discussion as to the appropriate trigger for establishing an ARFF service.

7.49 The proposal to increase the passenger trigger threshold from 350 000 to 500 000 was met with considerable concern from key stakeholders, including firefighters, and Minister McCormack's decision to retain the original threshold was welcomed.

7.50 However, the use of a hard trigger continues to be of particular concern given the ongoing increase in passenger numbers—an increase which shows no sign of abating. The committee questions whether the 350 000 passenger trigger remains suitable, given it was first implemented in 2002, and there is an ever-increasing need for ARFFS to respond to non-regulated emergencies and other calls for assistance.

7.51 The committee echoes the calls for Australia not to increase the threshold, as to do so could move Australia further away from ICAO's international standards, and is likely to see even less passengers covered by an ARRF service. The committee calls on the government to commit to making no amendments to the establishment (and disestablishment) triggers at this time.

7.52 The move to a risk-based assessment for establishing an ARFF service appears logical, and was supported by Airservices in its submission to DIRDC. Support for the risk-based approach was also offered by other key stakeholders, including the UFUA. An assessment of risk would better consider the individual circumstances of each airport, such as the operational environment of an airport, and may determine that ARFFS should be established at aerodromes where currently none exists.

7.53 A risk assessment would also assist in clarifying the timeframes in which an ARFFS must be established. Currently, there is a time lag between the passenger trigger being reached—and importantly, sustained—and the establishment of the ARFF service. A risk assessment approach could better clarify whether an aerodrome should have an ARFFS, and would allow for the relevant safety case to commence development immediately, as safety concerns are identified.

7.54 It appears evident to the committee that there are considerable safety benefits in moving away from a hard trigger for ARFFS establishment. In light of the significant support for a risk-based assessment to ARFFS establishment, and the fact that this approach could consider the need for a dedicated ARFF service at an aerodrome holistically, the committee recommends that DIRDC complete a review into the current establishment criteria for ARFFS.

7.55 The review should seek to determine whether the current methodology of utilising passenger numbers allows for sufficient provision of ARRFS across

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Australian aerodromes, particularly in light of increasing passenger numbers in recent years.

Recommendation 7

7.56 The committee recommends that the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, and Regional Development undertake a review of the current establishment criteria used for determining whether to implement an Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS). The review should consider whether the current methodology of utilising passenger numbers allows for sufficient provision of ARFFS across Australian aerodromes, in light of increasing passenger numbers in recent years.

Division of responsibilities at airports 7.57 It was made clear to the committee that ARFFS is responding to a significant number of emergencies, not related to its core, regulated functions. These non-regulated functions are no doubt important, particularly with regard to

first aid assistance. However, the increasingly large commercial areas of airports and other nearby developments are seeing the number of non-regulated responses increase considerably.

7.58 As was noted by Airservices, it may not always be appropriate for the ARFF services to respond to fire alarms at non-aviation-related commercial developments—a job that is perhaps better suited to state and territory fire services.

7.59 In light of cross-crewing and other staffing pressures, it is apparent that attendance at non-regulated emergencies and the deployment of the ARRFS domestic response service is placing considerable strain on ARFFS resources. Further, it has not been clearly established exactly what resources are required for attendance at non-aviation, domestic emergencies, with an associated lack of clarity around the division of responsibilities between airport operators and state fire services.

7.60 Similar to the fact that a TRA is required to determine the appropriate level of staffing for the ARFFS, a similar process should take place to determine what resources are needed to attend to non-regulated, non-aviation emergencies—a Domestic Response Service TRA (DRS TRA). This analysis would help to identify gaps in the provision of services against category.

7.61 The DRS TRA may identify that additional resources are required, to ensure that the ARFFS can maintain category while also attending to other emergencies—or may identify that other services, such as state fire services, would be better suited to attend some non-regulated events (and therefore, what interaction may be needed between ARFFS and state fire services). The staffing TRAs and DRS TRAs should therefore complement each other, and

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identify the appropriate level of staffing at an ARFF station that would allow all relevant emergencies to be responded to.

7.62 In light of the above, the committee recommends that the government, in consultation with the relevant regulatory bodies, mandate for the establishment of a DRS TRA. This TRA should determine the additional ARFF crews required for responses to non-aviation emergencies across the aerodrome, over and above the staff required for an ARFF station to maintain category in the case of an aviation emergency.

Recommendation 8

7.63 The committee recommends that the Australian Government mandate the establishment of a Task Resource Analysis for Domestic Response Services responding to emergencies at aerodromes (DRS TRA). The DRS TRA should determine the additional Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) staff required for responses to non-regulated ands non-aviation emergencies across the aerodrome, over and above the staff required for an ARFF station to maintain category in the case of an aviation emergency.

2015 Regulation Policy Review and CASR amendments 7.64 The committee is of the view that the 2015 Regulation Policy Review completed by DIRDC brought forward a number of sensible suggestions which would improve the administration of ARFFS.

7.65 In particular, the committee sees benefit in clarifying the roles and arrangements between the state and territory fire services and airport operators in the provision of ARFFS—this would also assist with the assessment of the DRS TRA. Further clarity over the definition of an aerodrome, to better reflect the core aviation activities of ARFFS, would also complement the DRS TRA process.

7.66 The committee encourages DIRDC to progress with these amendments by consulting with key stakeholders about the changes, and bringing forward legislative amendments in due course.

Senator Glenn Sterle

Chair

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Appendix 1

Submissions and additional information

Submissions received during the 45th Parliament 1 Willson Consulting 2 Fire Protection Association Australia 3 Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council 4 New South Wales Government 5 Mr Melville Miranda 6 Mr Geoff Fuller 7 Civil Aviation Safety Authority 8 Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union 9 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities 10 United Firefighters Union of Australia

 10.1 Supplementary to submission 10

11 Airservices Australia 12 Australian Airports Association 13 Dynax Corporation 14 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services 15 Tasmania Fire Service 16 Mr Andrew Hanson

 16.1 Supplementary to submission 16

17 United Firefighters Union of Australia - Aviation Branch 18 United Firefighters Union of Australia - Aviation Branch - Remote stations 19 United Firefighters Union of Australia Aviation Branch - Brisbane ARFFS safety review

 19.1 Supplementary to submission 19

20 Mr Tim Limmer 21 Australian Airline Pilots' Association (AusALPA) 22 Mr Glen Barker 23 Aviation Fire and Rescue Brisbane 24 Mr Kiegan Rice 25 Mr John Hancox

 25.1 Supplementary to submission 25

26 Confidential

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Additional Information received during the 45th Parliament 1 Response by Airservices Australia to evidence provided to the inquiry, dated and received 2 April 2019.

Additional Information received during the 46th Parliament 1 May 2019 presentation by Willson Consulting on the use of various firefighting foams at aviation accidents. 2 Correspondence of April and May 2019 between Airservices Australia and the

United Firefighters Union of Australia, regarding ARFFS staffing at Adelaide Airport.

Answers to Questions on Notice received during the 45th Parliament 1 Questions taken on notice at a public hearing in Melbourne, Victoria on 14 March 2019 by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Answer received 28 March 2019.

2 Questions taken on notice at a public hearing in Melbourne, Victoria on 14 March 2019 by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. Answer received 1 April 2019.

3 Questions taken on notice at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019 by Airservices Australia. Answer received 21 May 2019.

Correspondence received during the 45th Parliament 1 Correspondence of May 2019 between the Committee and Airservices Australia, regarding the new ARFFS fire station at Brisbane Airport.

Tabled Documents received during the 45th Parliament 1 Opening statement of the City of West Torrens, tabled at a public hearing in Adelaide, South Australia on 20 March 2019. 2 Correspondence between the City of West Torrens and the Hon Michael

McCormack MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, regarding firefighting personnel at Adelaide Airport. Tabled at a public hearing in Adelaide, South Australia on 20 March 2019. 3 Opening statement of Mr Justin Hunter, tabled at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019. 4 Task Resource Analysis - Brisbane ARFFS, tabled by the United Firefighters Union of Australia at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019. 5 ARFF Operational Bulletin OB-19-001 - Operating at reduced category due unavailability of ULFV Mk8, tabled by Mr John Hancox at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019. 6 Email correspondence of 23 August 2013 regarding Rosenbauer Panther vehicles, tabled by Mr John Hancox at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019.

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7 Email correspondence of 12 July 2013 regarding the Fire Vehicle Replacement Program, tabled by Mr John Hancox at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019.

8 Airservices Australia document - ARFF Fire Vehicle Replacement 5, Concept of Operations, tabled by Mr John Hancox at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019.

9 Opening statement of Mr John Hancox, tabled at a public hearing in Brisbane, Queensland on 16 April 2019.

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Appendix 2

Public hearings and witnesses

Thursday, 14 March 2019 Stamford Plaza Melbourne 111 Little Collins Street Melbourne

Fire Protection Association Australia  Mr Brett Staines, Chair, Special Hazards Fire Protection Committee  Mr Brendan Scully, Senior Technical Officer

United Firefighters Union of Australia  Mr Peter Marshall, National Secretary  Mr Stephen Horton, Industrial Officer  Mr Rodney Reith

Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities  Mr Simon Moore, General Manager, Air Traffic Policy  Mr Benedict Lyons, Director, Airservices Policy and Governance  Mrs Ros Pyett, Aviation Policy and Governance  Ms Pip Spence, Deputy Secretary

Civil Aviation Safety Authority  Mr Chris Monahan, Executive Manager National Operations and Standards  Mr Brad Parker, A/g Branch Manager Air Navigation, Airspace and Aerodromes Branch  Mr Rob Walker, Executive Manager Stakeholder Engagement

Airservices Australia  Ms Michelle Bennetts, Acting Chief Executive Officer  Mr Paul Logan, Chief Financial Officer  Mr Robert Porter, Executive General Manager, Aviation Rescue Fire

Fighting Services  Mr Glenn Wood, Chief Fire Officer

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 Atura Adelaide Airport 1 Atura Circuit Adelaide Airport Adelaide

City of West Torrens  Mayor Michael Coxon

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 Mr Terry Buss PSM, Chief Executive Officer

United Firefighters Union of Australia - Aviation Branch  Mr Mark von Nida, Branch Secretary  Mr Stephen Horton, Industrial Officer  Mr Robert Skelton, Branch President

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 Heathrow Room, Brisbane Airport Conference Centre 2 Dyandra Drive Brisbane Airport

Brisbane ARFF Firefighters  Mr John Hancox  Mr Justin Hunter, Branch Committee Member, UFUA Aviation Branch

United Firefighters Union of Australia  Mr Peter Marshall, National Secretary  Mr Stephen Horton, Industrial Officer

Airservices Australia  Mr Robert Porter, Executive General Manager, Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service  Mr Mark Best, Acting Chief Fire Officer