The Freetown international Airport as part of its sustained safety priorities has conducted a full-scale fire simulation exercise on Saturday 27th November 2021, at the Northern Apron of its facility.

The exercise was carried out as per its FNA Aerodrome Emergency plan AEP. The plan contains all airport measures and contingency planning in achieving a coordinated response among relevant stakeholders with defined roles and guidelines.

The AEP objective is also in accordance with the provisions stated in the International Civil Aviation (ICAO) fire preparedness protocols, which for Sierra Leone is further stipulated in the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Regulations Part 14,9.1-3.

The exercise was led by the SLAA Rescue and Fire department, testing its fire tender readiness and improving the collaboration between all response agencies in the event of an airport fire disaster.

Speaking at the event, the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airports Authority, Mr Jack Massaquoi said safety is an integral and necessary component of airport operations.

“The Sierra Leone Airports Authority as an Airport operator wants to keep first responders on their toes and to always stay cognisant of their safety roles. Our preparedness levels in case of any eventuality are strictly matched to international best practice and emergency situations of an airport nature. It is imperative for us to practice and manage this aspect of airport operations as stipulated in both our aerodrome emergency plan as well as the SLCAA regulations. We shall continue to be vigilant and constantly improve our safety performance and preparedness”, he concluded.

The mock scenario had an aircraft originating from a regional Airport when it reported an hydraulic failure and later suffered a hard landing, veering off the runway.

Following the script, the aircraft was engulfed in a “fire” and rescue crews had to follow protocol in responding to the situation; firstly, to put out the Aircraft fires and proceeding to help the injured who used prosthetic makeup to simulate fake wounds.

The medical and health triage was tasked with classifying their injuries according to severity, applying first aid and taking “Victims” to awaiting ambulances ready to take them to local hospitals.

All of the above processes were observed by the SLAA and SLCAA Board of Directors, the Disaster Management Agency and Airline Representatives.

Speaking during the debriefing sessions and live media engagement, the Board Chairman of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Patrick KaiKai, said that simulations like these are important to measure and test an Airport operator’s key safety indicators.

“Compliance in testing has been achieved today but the real work lies in evaluating the gaps identified by both the airports and the SLCAA team so as to start rigorous implementation of corrective action plan, as would have been identified in the SLCAA Checklist that was generated from the event.” Mr. Kai Kai concluded.

SLAA Technical Board Director Mr Mohamed Savo Kamara, said that Safety Drills like these are important because you can actually familiarize yourself in controlling real world situations.

“The SLAA Board will continue to work with the Airport management in particularly bringing out and implementing safety priorities at the forefront of its operations”

Director of Relief and Response from the National Disaster Management Agency, Mr Senneh Mansaray said he was very much impressed with the Airports four fire tenders, the fire fighter full fire suits, the diligence and responsible safety actions taken by first responders during the exercise.