Massport's Fire-Rescue HQ

David Liscio visits Massport Fire-Rescue headquarters at Boston's Logan International Airport.

Some of the most advanced firefighting equipment in the world is housed in a 50,000-square-foot firehouse at Boston's Logan International Airport, where Massport Fire-Rescue makes its headquarters. Photo by David Liscio Massport Fire-Rescue Engine 1 is a 1995 Pierce Arrow...

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Training occurs daily. Logan firefighters also teach their skills to firefighters from other communities in the airport's mutual aid district. It's an opportunity for others in the fire service to get a taste of what it's like to extinguish a roaring fuel fire.

One day, Assistant Chiefs Thomas Comeau and William Mackey were in command of the burn pit on Governor's Island at the edge of a remote runway. Firefighters from departments in Winthrop and Dracut, MA, felt the heat generated by a classic fuel fire. After all, the startup temperature in the burn pit was 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mackey, who helped design the training facility with its mock DC-10 fuselage, approached the flames with his crew while Comeau stayed on the radio to direct the flow of jet fuel through underground pipes from a nearby cinderblock control house. Six fires were ignited with an electronic ignition. The first consumed 100 gallons of Jet A aviation fuel and were doused with water. The latter approached 300 gallons and were quickly extinguished with foam.

As the men charged the blaze, Comeau explained the tactic in aircraft crash rescue is simple: "You've got to push the fire away from the aircraft. That gives the aircraft personnel a chance to open the exit and get the people out. Pushing the fire away is especially important if it's military with munitions on board."

The burn pit is designed to catch the fuel runoff. In addition to the steel fuselage, the training facility also has a smokehouse. According to Comeau, smokeless fuel may be used after next year because of complaints about possible pollution generated by the training exercises.

Logan international is the 10th busiest airport in the United States and 16th busiest in the world.

Apparatus List

Engine 1 1995 Pierce Arrow pump-and-roll engine. Carries 1,000 gallons of water and 220 gallons of foam.

Ladder 1 1995 Pierce 100-foot aerial platform with custom bucket offering larger platform for aircraft rescue and brackets for attaching a roof ladder to aid in sea rescue.

Engine 7 1994 Oshkosh T-3000 ARFF vehicle. Carries 3,000 gallons of water and 405 gallons foam.

Engine 4 1992 Oshkosh TA-1500 ARFF vehicle. Carries 1,500 gallons water and 195 gallons foam. Serves as department's reserve truck.

Engine 6 1993 Oshkosh TB-3000 ARFF. Carries 3,000 gallons water and 405 gallons foam.

Engine 3 1989 Emergency One Titan V. Carries 3,000 gallons of water and 400 gallons of foam (3 percent AFFF).

Rescue 1 EMS response unit., 1997 3-D on a Freightliner chassis with light tower, PTO generator and other special equipment.

Engine 2 1986 Protector (made in England) ARFF crash truck. Carries 2,500 gallons water and 217 gallons foam.

Mobile Command Post 40-foot Bluebird bus chassis with custom command post with conference room, video tower, satellite communication, cellular communication, kitchen and bath.

Howard W. Fitzpatrick 90-ton, 80-foot steel-hull fireboat; seven turrets, 14 hose discharges, 6,000 gpm. Carries 500 gallons of foam. Firefighting capability equivalent to six fire trucks.

Boston Whaler 27-foot rigid-hull, high-speed rescue boat. Powered by twin 200-hp outboards. Can make 40 knots. Has onboard 250-gpm portable pump.

David Liscio, a Firehouse® correspondent, is a reporter for the Daily Evening Item in Lynn, MA, and a call firefighter in Nahant, MA.