The National Academies

ACRP 04-34 [Pending]

A Guide for Building, Maintaining, and Improving ARFF Programs

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin


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 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, 
  • 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”.

STATUS: A response has been received for this RFP.  The project panel will meet to determine next steps.

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