Santa Maria Airport Board to discuss fire station changes

Project under way to Improve Emergency Response to Runways

Although it’s not yet apparent, work has begun to improve firefighting and emergency response at Santa Maria Public Airport.

The first amendment to a contract that will make those changes is among many items the Board of Directors will discuss when it meets at 7:00 p.m. today at the airport administration building.

The airport is upgrading its emergency response capabilities by purchasing a new fire truck — an Airport Rescue Fire Fighting apparatus better known as an “ARFF” — and reconfiguring fencing around its fire station.

The airport secured Federal Aviation Administration funding to pay for 90 percent of its new truck, and the airport board voted to kick in an additional $53,038 to double the capacity of the truck from 1,500 gallons to 3,000. The truck, which ultimately cost $1,043,696, has been ordered.

The access road and fence modifications will be handled by J.F. Will Co. of Santa Maria and will improve emergency response to the airport’s runways, according to General Manager Chris Hastert. The board will discuss a contract amendment with J.F. Will Co. at the Thursday meeting.

“Right now, there is a motorized vehicle gate between station and runway,” Hastert said. “It gives a single point of failure so that, if that gate isn’t working, (firefighters) are not able to respond to a fire in a timely manner.”

The redesign of the fencing around the western part of the terminal area will allow better access to the runways. Hastert said the fire station will be part of perimeter security when the project is complete.  Work on the fencing and access road is expected to begin over the next couple of weeks, Hastert said.

The board also will consider authorizing staff to attend an Air Services Development Conference in January in Mesa, Ariz.  Hastert said representatives of the airlines industry attend the conference each year, and this will give him a chance to continue dialoguing with people from United Airlines and SkyWest Airlines. He recently met with representatives from those two airlines to express the airport’s desire to secure passenger service to a western hub.  Hastert said he is currently working with Dave Cross at the Santa Maria Economic Development Commission to gather more information to support the airport’s effort.

12/13/12   By Brian Bullock / Staff Writer / bbullock@santamariatimes.com

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