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Airport’s fire, rescue facility officially arrives

May 9, 2018 GMT

HARLINGEN — The $3.8 million firefighting and rescue facility at Valley International Airport was officially christened yesterday after two years of construction, thrusting the second-busiest airport in the Valley into a new era.

The 10,000-square-foot building will house firefighters trained in aviation rescue operations and serve as a training and storage facility for chemicals and the airport’s two new specialized firefighting vehicles, a Striker Oshkosh 4x4 and Titan Force, known as Charlie 1 and Charlie 2.

“Having something come to fruition like this and replacing a facility that was so antiquated and outdated, it’s just a really good addition to the airport,” Marv Esterly, VIA’s director of aviation, said at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting.

“How do you say it? ‘You plan for the worst and hope for the best?’” he added. “They continuously plan, they continuously train in all different situations and all different scenarios, and this facility will just help facilitate that.”

Airport firefighting, known as ARFF, is a special category that involves quick response, evacuation and potentially the rescue of passengers and crew of an aircraft involved in an airport ground emergency. They’re the only civilian fire protection services specifically regulated by a governmental entity, in this case the Federal Aviation Administration.

The new facility will house nine firefighters at a time, with both male and female living facilities, a kitchen, training rooms, a workout room and a simulator for the multi-million-dollar firefighting trucks.

It should be operational for 40 to 50 years, Esterly said.

“This facility is built to withstand hurricane-force winds, and it’s going to be here for a long, long time,” Esterly said.

Lead architects on the project were AECOM, a global architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Los Angeles, with local architectural firm Megamorphosis serving as AECOM’s local project architects. David Wolf was onsite construction inspector for the airport.