The National Academies

ACRP 04-34 [RFP]

A Guide for Building, Maintaining, and Improving ARFF Programs

Posted Date: 9/11/2023

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 18 months
(includes 1 months for ACRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for ACRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 3/14/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin
   Phone: 202/334-2366
   Email: mjgriffin@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 11/14/2023
Fiscal Year: 2023

ATTENTION PROPOSERS: A Research Project Statement for ACRP Project 04-34 was released on December 22, 2022 and May 25, 2023; no award was made. The purpose of this Research Project Statement is to re-announce this project. This solicitation is open to all proposers, including any agencies that responded to the earlier Research Project Statement. This Research Project Statement has been modified from the original statement: revisions were made to the Objective, Research Plan, and the Special Notes.


Aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) services are crucial and required for the safe operation of Part 139 certificated airports. Many ARFF departments depend on passing knowledge and experience from leader to leader and/or firefighter to firefighter. While Federal Aviation Regulations and guidance focus on operating procedures, training requirements, and equipment requirements, U.S. airports could benefit from guidelines for developing or managing an ARFF department. These guidelines could include resources for leadership development, mentorship enhancement, training program development, etc.  


The objective of this research is to provide guidelines for U.S. airports to establish or maintain and improve existing operationally ready ARFF programs. The guidelines must, at a minimum, (1) address airport requirements for all ARFF indexes including index-specific guidance, (2) provide documentation resources for airport sponsors that meets or exceeds regulatory requirements, (3) provide a comprehensive review and database of current practices U.S. airports are using to meet regulatory requirements and maintain an operationally ready ARFF program, and (4) include an executive summary for airport executives and leadership, including an overview of ARFF regulatory requirements. As part of this objective, a complementary WebResource that provides an overview of ARFF response and recommended training resources for mutual aid providers must be developed. 

The guidelines and WebResource, where appropriate, should address the following topics:

  • Airport ownership models,
  • ARFF department organizational structures,
  • ARFF department leadership development,
  • ARFF department costs and budget requirements,
  • Staffing including continuity of operations planning,
  • Non-ARFF resources and mutual aid providers,
  • ARFF equipment including maintenance and testing,
  • ARFF facilities,
  • Draft training programs including initial and recurrent training,
  • Record keeping and meeting regulatory inspection requirements (include templates that meet regulatory requirements), and
  • Future ARFF response considerations due to new entrants to aviation and additional research recommendations.


The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to provide a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail. 

The research plan should include deliverables, for ACRP and panel review and approval, that include at a minimum:

  • A data collection and outreach plan that represents airports from all indexes, all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport regions, a variety of airport ownership models and ARFF providers, cold and warm weather climates, general aviation (GA) airports, and airports without on-site ARFF coverage and are covered exclusively by mutual aid,
  • A rough draft of the executive summary,
  • A mock-up of the WebResource, and
  • An interim report documenting the research done to date, an updated work plan, rough drafts of the templates, and an annotated outline of the guide. 

The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP panel: 

  • A kick-off web meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed, 
  • A web meeting to review and approve the data collection and outreach plans for both objectives,
  • One face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, and  
  • Web meetings tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.

The final deliverables will include: 

  • The guidelines for U.S. airports to maintain and improve existing operationally ready ARFF programs or establish a new operationally ready ARFF program, 
  • WebResource,
  • A Final Report documenting the entire research effort and results,
  • A Summary of Key Findings (see Special Note N), 
  • At least one problem statement to be submitted by the contractor and approved by the panel that represents further recommended research, and 
  • A technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note M).

Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, there should be 3 months for ACRP review and comments and for contractor preparation of the final deliverables. For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that ACRP will provide access to web-enabled teleconference services. ACRP will pay panel members’ travel costs for the face-to-face interim meeting. Proposers should assume that the meeting will be held in Washington, DC.


A. As part of the proposal, please discuss all possible regulatory requirements with which ARFF department may have to comply.  

B. As part of the proposal, please include a table that identifies possible stakeholders that could be included in the data collection plan and the justification for including them.

C. CRP’s WebResources multi-site is hosted within an open-source content management system called WordPress in Amazon Web Services using an Ubuntu operating system. CRP manages two instances of WebResources (1) UAT used for development and review, and (2) PROD is CRP’s live production site. A list of approved WordPress plug-ins can be found here: https://crp.trb.org/approved-plugins/. WordPress plug-ins not listed in the approved list can be evaluated, but may not be approved. Contractor is responsible for lifetime subscription (if available) costs of new plug-ins, and must transfer the license to CRPs to ensure that the functionality from the plug-in will continue to operate correctly in the future. The selected contractor will be working within the UAT site for all updates.

D. Researchers should consider the limitations of written survey questionnaires and the impacts of “survey fatigue” on our stakeholders. In an effort to ensure an adequate response rate and collection of information, proposers may consider the use of focus groups, Internet/web-based technologies, social networking sites, and industry conferences or other techniques that may be appropriate.

E. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2023. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow. 

F. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

G. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.

H. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at https://www.mytrb.org/OnlineDirectory/Committee/Details/6818. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.

I. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

J. Proposals are evaluated by the ACRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue. 

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

K. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

L. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

M. The technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should provide: (a) recommended tactics to facilitate implementation; (b) possible institutions/partners and their potential implementation role; (c) potential impediments to successful implementation; (d) metrics to measure extent of product use and benefit; (e) related FAA guidance; and (f) appendices as needed. An annotated template for the memorandum is found here: https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/acrp/ACRP_Implementation_TechMemo_Template_2019.pdf.

N. The Summary of Key Findings will be a stand-alone document. It should: (a) convey the most pertinent and applicable results of the project’s research; (b) be geared toward the airport industry practitioner while minimizing technical language; (c) present results using text and graphics as appropriate; and (d) encourage readers to explore the primary project deliverables. The Summary of Key Findings should be limited to no more than 4 pages.

O. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

P. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs.

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/UsIFyvXXFpuwpJ8Gsh6Z 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 11/14/2023.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section IV for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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