AFOA is a re-launched version of the Senior Airport Fire Officers Association (SAFOA) which came into existence approximately ten years ago. Unfortunately, this never proved to be a significant success as it was only open to a narrow band of high-ranking officers who, in turn, struggled to deliver work whilst dealing with issues on station.
Allied to this was a certain amount of scepticism from airport owners who misinterpreted SAFOA’s agenda and felt they were essentially an officers union.
AFOA was formed in 1998 and has a clear mandate not to become involved in any form of industrial relation issues either in a direct or indirect manner. AFOA are only concerned with the development of standards, best practice and the promotion of communications throughout the industry.
In short, AFOA see themselves as a professional body that would be able to offer advice on any technical issue related to Aviation Fire Fighting.
The idea of opening up to all airport fire officers was to ensure that the industry as a whole was represented, whilst tasks and projects could be accomplished as the pool of resources would increase significantly.
Additionally, AFOA has been a great vehicle to develop the younger junior ranks, as people in this band are the senior officers of the future. The method for achieving this is undertaken primarily through the provision of four quarterly meetings planned in a twelve month period. The first meeting of the year is the annual two-day conference, which this year attracts in excess of one hundred delegates each year.
An example of the work undertaken includes the production of a Generic Guidance Manual produced for the implementation of an in house Maintenance Scheme for Fire Fighters which will be expanded now that the Supervisory and Managerial Roles have been identified and agreed., and the RFFS Medical & Fitness Policy Guidance Document.
Other projects have ensured that AFOA encourage a better, more pro-active relationship with manufacturers, suppliers and training providers as we feel the need to be involved with fire fighting technologies and, their on-going development
Strong links have been forged with Terberg DTS UK Fire and Rescue Division (Fire Appliances, Fire Fighting Equipment and Foam), the International Fire Training Centre, Teesside (Training Provider), KIDDE Fire Trainers (Hot Fire Simulators), SIDES, Angloco and Rosenbauer (Fire Appliances), Angus and Solberg Scandinavian(Foam and Fire Fighting Equipment), Brothertons and Omex Specialist Products (Runway De-Icing Fluids) Drager (Breathing Apparatus) etc…
The low category airports have been a little resistant in joining so far although AFOA are making great strides to inform them of their significance in signing up to such an organisation.
In conclusion, AFOA are well established within the industry and has a strong rapport with legislative bodies in the UK as well as comparable associations overseas. It is clear that there is a need for such a forum so that a certain amount of commonality can be achieved, much in the same way that the local authority brigades operate through the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).