The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $917,000 civil penalty against the Puerto Rico Ports Authority for alleged aircraft rescue and firefighting violations at three of its commercial airports.
“Maintaining required aircraft rescue and firefighting capabilities is critical to safe airport operations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Emergency response is one of the most important safety functions that commercial airports perform.”
The Puerto Rico Ports Authority has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency. The allegations are as follows.
Rafael Hernandez Airport
The airport is required to have two aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles based on the type of aircraft it serves. On March 25, 2015, one of the vehicles was unable to perform its required functions because it failed to correctly mix firefighting foam and water.
As a result, the airport did not provide the required ARFF capability. During a demonstration the same day, ARFF personnel failed to begin applying extinguishing agent within the required three minutes of an alarm sounding.
Moreover, the airport’s ARFF vehicles did not have two-way voice communications to maintain contact with other emergency vehicles and with the airport fire station. And one firefighter had a damaged fire suit so was therefore not equipped to perform his duties. The airport failed to ensure that 13 firefighters received recurrent aircraft familiarization training.
On nine dates in March 2015, the airport conducted daily self-inspections in the afternoon or at night rather than at sunrise, as required by its Airport Certification Manual.
Antonio Rivera Rodriguez Airport
The airport’s ARFF vehicles did not have required two-way radio communications with the airport fire station on March 24, 2015.