Home Forums ARFF Topics General ARFF Discussions Airport Compliance with NFPA 403?


This topic contains 12 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Danny Pierce 6 months ago.

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    All FAA certificated airports that have formally adopted NFPA 403 and are in compliance with this NFPA standard for ARFF, please advise.


    No airports in compliance?


    This has been a hot topic regarding staffing and equipment between the Airports,FAA, NFPA, IAFF, etc, etc, etc. Congratulations, you have accomplished what some only dream of.


    I am the author, not jeffandjj.


    What are the biggest problems deterring adoption the NFPA 403 standard for your airport?



    This is how I interept 403 requirements, I could be wrong.  We are a small hub “C” index that responds to approx 150 calls per year.  Of those, 10% or less are aircarrier related, the rest are GA, medical, etc.

    Accrding to Table 4.3.1, we would go from an index “C” to an NFPA category 7. 

    That would mean the following for us;

    According to table 5.3.1, we would need to be able to discharge 4,880 gallons of water for a pool fire and interior firefighting.  You can’t get that with 3 – 1500 trucks, our current fleet.

    Table 6.1.1 would require 3 vehicles.   One of those trucks would have to be a 3000.

    Table I would have to hire 30 people to meet this requirement as I would need 12 per shift,I have 15 now 

    Chapter 9 make it real interesting.  The ARFF apparatus have to be garaged. (9.1.1)

    9.1.3 states you have to respond to any point on the operational runway within 2 minutes and any point within the rapid response area within 2.5 minutes.  We would have to build two stations that would allow us to meet these response requirements.  In addition, because of the agent discharge capability outline previously, we would end up purchasing 3 additional vehicles so that we could meet the response times to each end of the runway and rapid response area.   9.1.4 adds to this burden.

    So for us, that’s; 2 new stations – 2 -3 million dollars, 2 – 3000 & 1 – 1500 apparatus – 2.5 – 3 million dollars and hire 30 additional FF’s – wages & benefits – 2 – 2.5 million dollars.

    Low side – 6.5 million, high side 8.5 million for less than 15 aircarrier calls per year. 

    Now this may sound like I am against this, I am not, but reality is just that.  That is just us, if you add in all the airports across the nation that would have to do this???  Who pays?  Does this drive the smaller airports out of business?  If you do that it will cause a ripple effect on the large hubs. 

    Great topic isn’t?




    Interesting Subject.

    Your initial Post states: “All FAA certificated airports that have formally adopted NFPA 403 and are in compliance with this NFPA standard for ARFF, please advise.”… Is unclear to me what is being asked? Are you surveying which FAA Certificated Airports are following;  some or all NFPA 403 Standards?

    Please let me know what info your seeking and is needed as far as; is there a need to mandate the entire 403 Standard or is there some legal dispute over the standard as far as some FAA Certificated Airport’s interpretation of the standards?




    @BLIARFF1, Got it…cost.

    @oakarff22 Full compliance with the document.

    Yes,  I want to see if ANY certificated airports are in compliance with NFPA 403.  The NFPA does not have this information. If not in compliance with a “national standard”, why? My assumption would be that the costs associated with compliance are restricting airport adoption.

    The task analysis model identified in Annex D is used as the basis for the NFPA 403 standard. Is the task analysis flawed? Are the resources identified in the document unreasonable for initial fire attack and rescue? Is your airport ready to save the lives of people who are involved in aircraft accidents identified in Annex D.10 Stage 2 (internal aircraft fire, aircraft engine failure with fire, aircraft aborts and overruns with fire, aircraft into aircraft with fire, aircraft into terminal building(s) with a fire.) with FAA Part 139 resources?


    Any updates since the response times have been changed?


    Still checking to see if any certificated airports are in full compliance with NFPA 403. Please advise, none identified to date.



    Hello group,
    Wondering if the new NFPA 403, 1018 edition has changed attitudes on this topic.
    In the new 2018 edition NFPA utilizes stronger language under The words “SHALL NOT” suddenly appear which is a hard strict word per NFPA. Staffing levels shall be established through a task resource analysis based on the needs and demands of the airport, but shall not be lower than the values specified in Table for the minimum total number of ARFF-trained personnel responding to an initial alarm, based on the minimum response times in Chapter 9 and extinguishing agent discharge rates and quantities required in Chapter 5.

    If all airports were to follow NFPA 403 2018 it would lead to a possible increase in staffing which is a large increase in budget.

    My manpower at the Louis Armstrong International Airport would have to increase to 14 members assigned with 12 minimum per shift; for a total staffing of 42 members.

    Just looking for guidance from others as to how they are getting around not following this NFPA guidance.

    Chief Gary Simon
    ARFF Manager


    NFPA Standards are adopted by the AHJ, FAA regulations are Federal law. The FAA cherry picks what NFPA standards are referenced in FAA Advisory Circulars and Cert Alerts. It will be interesting to see when a legal precedent is established when lives lost on an aircraft accident (like the Asiana 214 accident at SFO) that holds airports and airlines accountable for not adopting a national consensus standard – NFPA 403. The Asiana 214 NTSB accident report ARFF recommendations (AAR 1401, page 132) states,

    “To the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Working Group:
    Work with the Federal Aviation Administration and equipment manufacturers to develop and distribute more specific policies and guidance about when, how, and where to use the high-reach extendable turret’s unique capabilities. (A-14-58)
    Work with medical and medicolegal professional organizations to develop and distribute guidance on task prioritization for responding aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) personnel that includes recommended best practices to avoid striking or rolling over seriously injured or deceased persons with ARFF vehicles in a mass casualty situation. (A-14-59)
    Develop a minimum aircraft rescue and firefighting staffing level that would allow exterior firefighting and rapid entry into an airplane to perform interior firefighting and rescue of passengers and crewmembers. (A-14-60)
    Develop and distribute, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, guidance and training materials to ensure that all airport and mutual aid firefighting officers placed in command at the scene of an aircraft accident have at least a minimum level of aircraft rescue and firefighting training. (A-14-61)”
    These NTSB recommendations are all satisfied and established in NFPA ARFF documents.

    Jack Kreckie recently wrote an article in ARFF News (Volume 30, Number 1) titled “ARFF Staffing – Smoke and Mirrors” and failed to mention NFPA 403 staffing requirements. Probably just an oversight?

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  Danny Pierce. Reason: Added information
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