From a mixed team to full responsibility

Lt. Philippe Mouret
First published in
SFOR Informer#136, April 11, 2002

At Sarajevo International Airport, a mixed Bosnian and SFOR staff provide a range of services: fire duty, air regulation and security.

Sarajevo - The State Border Service (SBS) is the first Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) state level, multi-ethnic law enforcement agency. At Sarajevo airport, SBS duties include the passport and immigration control and civilian building security. Its role will soon expand to runway security working in co-operation with the French Air Detachment (DETAIR) commandos who have performed these duties until now.
A multiple co-operation
Combined teams operate in two other areas: firemen and air regulation. All emergency services are under the authority of DETAIR Commander Col. Thierry Mounié. The firemen ensure the fire security of military and civilian aircraft and the provision of rescue services. Since December 2001, these tasks have been jointly entrusted to a French Rescue and Fire Security Troop (Section de sécurité incendie et sauvetage, SSIS) and to a detachment from Canton Sarajevo's Professional Firemen Brigade (Profesionalna Vatroga sna Brigada, PVB).
The SSIS consists of ten fire soldiers from the French Air Force and are equipped with a Versatile Intervention Quick Vehicle that carries 1,000 kg of powder and with an Aerodrome Fire-Fighting Foam Vehicle transporting 7,200 litres of water and emulsifier.
The PVB detachment is 28 firemen strong, commanded by Kemal Cacan. They have five intervention vehicles with a capacity of 30 tonnes of water and 3,000 litres of emulsifier. Forty Sarajevan firemen, certified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), usually train with the DETAIR. Cacan explained: "For us the difficulty is the rotation of people every four months… [Except that], there is no problem in working with French firemen… There is no differences in procedures." French WO1 Yannick Colin specified: "The common job helps to understand things." WO2 Clément Gamboni, SSIS Chief, explained: "The acquired proficiency allows us to work without giving orders and to be free from language… The plane defines the way to work. The ICAO requires us to be on the plane in less than three minutes. The best is in less than two minutes. Otherwise, everybody is dead."
Transition period
Mounié specified: "We are in a transition period… The intention is to transfer all the competence of fire and rescue by next summer." Technically everything is ready. It is from a legal point of view that responsibilities must be clearly defined.
The same level of integration is in place in the airport tower. "The aerodrome control is ensured by the local air traffic controllers," explained Capt. Pierre Le Dem, tower chief. SFOR only provides a watch supervisor who "ensures the approach co-ordination, the monitoring of all frequencies and advice to the civilian controllers to maintain the free flow and security of traffic," stated WO1 Gilles Nugues. On the airport, ten controllers are already certified by the ICAO and EuroControl (The overall air traffic services manager for Europe). Seven more are to arrive.
Emina Turulja, Bosnian Air Traffic Controllers chief, was doing this job before the war. She has been working with French since February 2000 and said: "At the beginning there were communication problems but we found solutions and now we work as one team."
The French military radar equipment is still monitoring aircraft approach. When it is replaced by civilian equipment, at the end of 2002, full responsibility will transfer to the BiH authorities.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: France
SFOR at Work

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Photos: PO Susan Rose

Bosnian Air Traffic Controller Senada Hadzialic watches a Transall C-160 that just landed from the tower's window.


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Watch supervisor French WO1 Gilles Nugues keeps an eye and an ear on everything.


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Bosnian (foreground) and French (background) firemen work with perfect synchronisation.


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Intervention lorries from SFOR (left) and the Sarajevo Firemen Brigade (right) give a soaking to the United Nations plane.