Dec 5, 2018

Media Release – Senate to Examine Airport Fire Safety – Wednesday, 5 December, 2018

Labor has successfully moved to establish a Senate inquiry into the adequacy of specialist Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (ARFFS) at the nation’s airports.

ARFFS, run by Airservices Australia, provide trained specialists who rescue people and property from aircraft crashes and other emergency incidents at airports. In 2017-18 they responded to about 6900 incidents.

The Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport committee inquiry will focus on whether current safety standards at airports, including provision of ARFFS,  are adequate to maintain the safety of both the travelling public and emergency personnel.

The committee will also consider whether regulators including the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia are enforcing internationally agreed safety standards at Australian airports.

The inquiry follows the current Government’s failed 2016 attempt to remove ARFFS from a number of regional airports including Ballina, Gladstone, Hamilton Island, Ayers Rock, Karratha and Port Hedland.

Australia has an enviable record of aviation safety. It is important that the Parliament plays is role in maintaining that record.

The inquiry will examine:

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

  1. Current standards applicable to the provision of aerodrome rescue and firefighting services relating to community safety and the emergency personnel safety;
  2. The standards for the provision of emergency response at Australian airports including emergency medical response and response to structure fires and other incidents;
  3. 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;
  4. Consideration of best practice including relevant international standards;
  5. The mechanisms and criteria for the review of the provisions of safety standards for the provision of rescue and firefighting services, if any;
  6. A review of Airservices Australia policy and administration of aviation rescue and firefighting services;
  7. The effectiveness and independence of the regulator the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to uphold Aviation rescue and firefighting safety standards;
  8. 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;
  9. Any other related matters.