KOSU’s Station 11: How the firehouse soars, saves and serves

Posted: April 6, 2023
Firefighters training with fire and hoses and firetrucks at KOSU
Each year ARFF-designated staff and firefighters complete specialized training to fulfill FAA requirements

Columbus, like any major city, is a place teeming with people and possibilities. The Ohio State University Airport (KOSU) is no different. It is a bustling hub for aviation with people and planes filtering in and out. Both of these places require certain fundamental departments to function safely, such as a firehouse. Luckily, Station 11 at KOSU takes care of the Columbus community and the airport at the same time.

The Ohio State airport is home to the Station 11 firehouse, which is a part of the Columbus Division of Fire. Station 11 was built in 1992 as part of a mutual agreement between the airport and the city of Columbus – but why does the airport need a fire station?

As a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 139 airport, KOSU is required to have Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) on location ready for duty in case of emergency. Staff have specialized training that allows them to safely fight fires on aircraft. The FAA has special training modules for ARFF firefighters because they have more to consider than traditional firefighters.

“They need to understand the composition of airplanes,” says Interim Airport Director Dale Gelter. “Some are pressurized or have ballistic parachutes. They need to know what’s going to set them off.”

ARFF firefighters undergo initial training as well as recurrent training once a year to stay up to date on the safest and most proficient practices.

Requirements include that the airport have specific equipment as well. ARFF trucks are designed to maneuver through ditches and the rough terrain of airfields. Unlike regular fire trucks, ARFF vehicles do not navigate city streets and have specialized equipment. The size of the ARFF vehicle depends on the largest aircraft that an airport has. KOSU has an Index “A” ARFF, and that means based on the size of the largest plane, a certain amount of extinguishing agents need to be on board in order to fight fires on aircraft.

KOSU firetruck
KOSU's ARFF firetruck during a training exercise

“They need to have enough additive to make foam film to fight fires,” says Gelter.

Despite their large size, ARFF vehicles move quickly. They are required to reach identified locations on the field within a certain time frame. The specifications of an ARFF truck set by the FAA ensure that in the event of an emergency, ARFF-trained staff will be able to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

The Ohio State Airport and Station 11 are a perfect match. KOSU needs to maintain ARFF and the location is ideal to provide more rounds to the general public. Gelter describes it as a “symbiotic relationship.” The City of Columbus provides personnel to crew the ARFF vehicle while the airport provides the vehicle and equipment.

Station 11 provides emergency services to the surrounding communities, which leaves the neighborhood feeling safe and secure knowing that help is just around the corner. Station 11 serves the community as well as the airport staff and students. The firefighters are committed to providing fast assistance in emergencies and keeping everyone as safe as possible.

Firehouse Station 11 at KOSU
Station 11 on West Case Road at the university airport

by Carrie White, professional writing intern

Category: Outreach