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Royal Air Force fire service in Split

By Lt. ystein Paulsen
First published in

SFOR Informer #76

Split, Croatia - The Royal Air Force (UK) Fire Service at Divulje (DJ) Barracks, provides crash fire cover for all SFOR helicopter operations, and domestic cover for any fire incidents occurring within the base. "If needed, we also respond to any road traffic accident involving SFOR vehicles within a twenty mile radius of the camp, but this can be extended to a Theatre wide helicopter-born response to any serious vehicle or aircraft incident where a special rescue is required," said Sgt. Steve Hitchcock, commander of the fire detachment.

The fire service consists of 22 fire fighters, divided into two crews, and belongs to the Support Helicopter Force (SHF) at DJ Barracks. "We have a total of four fire engines - two so-called Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV), and two bigger Major Foam Vehicles. The RIV's are rescue vehicles and will be the first vehicle on scene if any accident or incident should occur. The vehicle is designed to fight small fires and to get people out of crashed aircraft," said Hitchcock.
All the fire fighters are specially trained to get people out of crashed aircraft, and also trained to enter the cockpit in order to shut down the engines and other systems. The Major Foam Vehicle carries a mix of 2,700 litres of water and 600 litres of foam.

"We have not responded to any road traffic accident (RTA) so far, but we have had a couple of pretty big grass fires inside the camp. But we have not been busy fighting fires. That does not mean that we are not working. As well as being on standby for any emergencies, our daily routine involves testing and maintenance of our vehicles and our equipment," said Hitchcock.

The fire fighters also do a lot of preventive fire safety work within the Support Helicopter Force, and they are responsible for pre-flight safety briefs and ensuring the safe boarding of all passengers prior to departure from the heliport in DJ Barracks.

Related Link: United Kingdom