When those flights almost came to a halt, the 88th ABW – which manages the installation’s flight and firefighting operations – quickly responded and leaned on its strong community ties kept things running smoothly, officials said.
“On Dec. 5, a unique event occurred when two of our specialized aircraft-rescue firefighting vehicles broke (down),” said Jacob King, 788th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief.
King said the breakdowns resulted in a loss of safety matrix firefighting agent and reduced the unit’s capabilities.
“We knew we had mission sets coming in that needed that full firefighting agent capability,” he added. “So, we reached out to the Dayton Airport to see if they had any vehicles available.”
After the breakdowns, the amount of available water and foam, known as firefighting agent, for fighting aircraft fires became critically low. Each aircraft-response vehicle carries thousands of gallons of water and foam that adds up to an amount in the risk matrix allowing for safe operation of large and small aircraft landing or departing the base.
“When one of those [ARFVs] goes out of service, we lose that amount of water and foam, so we go to what’s called a percentage,” King said. “As it reduces, larger aircraft can’t land here because we don’t have enough agent to put it out if it catches fire. If we continue to lose those due to mechanical issues, we get into (a) status where only a helicopter or small aircraft like an F-16 can come here.”
To avoid going into a lower status level, Lt. Col. Laura Porter, 88th Operations Support Squadron commander, worked with the Dayton Airport Fire Station to borrow an aircraft-response firefighting vehicle.
“There was conversation with OSS and the airport commander that Dayton had recently purchased a new ARFV and if they might have an excess truck available, and they did,” King said. “The truck, I believe, had been out of service for several months and had just been placed back in service when the new one came in and they had it readily available for us.”
Dayton International Airport has always had a “long-standing relationship” with Wright-Patterson AFB, said Linda Hughes, the airport’s communication director.
“Wright-Patterson always assists the airport in support of the annual Dayton Air Show. The airport director also holds the position of 445th Operations Group honorary commander,” she said. “We feel it’s a very positive thing. We love to help our partners in the community and support the important missions the base provides to the country.”
So, knowing it had Dayton International Airport’s support, the base worked through details of the ARFV loan. It involved key collaboration by wing leadership, the 88th Civil Engineer Group and 88th Staff Judge Advocate office.
But this was not the only arrangement for a stop-gap ARFV in the works. While plans for the Dayton ARFV were being finalized, the 88th Logistical Readiness Squadron was working on securing a second ARFV.
Tom Riste, 88 LRS director, secured a war-readiness material vehicle. Unit personnel retrieved it from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and trucked it back to Wright-Patterson AFB over the weekend.
“This happened on a Saturday when we lost all the vehicles. By Tuesday, we returned Dayton’s vehicle, and we had one of our vehicles repaired by LRS and the ARFV from Dover here in service,” King said. “It’s typical that the 88th is able to move mountains to make the mission happen and multiple commanders come together to assist in bringing the capability instantly back. Four days is instant in regard to our vehicle set.
“The base being able to utilize Dayton’s airport-rescue truck goes back to relationships and how we integrate with our community.”
King attributes the rapid support the 88th ABW received from Dayton last month to Wright-Patterson AFB’s “deep roots” in the community.
“We work with the community almost on a daily basis by helping support mutual-aid responses with rescue and fire equipment to assist the surrounding communities,” he added. “We also support the Dayton Airport for military aircraft at the air shows and a yearly major-accident response exercise.
“We are really appreciative of Dayton International Airport and its fire department and their Public Safety Division for allowing us to borrow this vehicle.”