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From Flames to Rescue: Exploring the Challenges Faced by Aircraft Firefighters

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Aircraft firefighters are glamourized by Hollywood but face hazardous and life-threatening challenges in the real world. Rescue training for firefighters must address these challenges to protect the safety and health of the firefighters and the general public.

Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) for Aviation Firefighters

Aircraft firefighting training is mandated by the Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) under Transport Canada and the responsibility of the Minister of Transport. The training requirements, equipment requirements, and response procedures require stringent polices, guidelines, and certifications.

Unique Challenges Faced by Aircraft Firefighters

Aviation firefighters face some of the challenges aircraft firefighters face on a daily basis, as well as many unique challenges specific to the field:

Rapid Response and Time Sensitivity

Fires of any form require quick and efficient response and an aircraft fire can happen anywhere, on and off the tarmac. With the rapid spread of fire, responders must be able to attend to the incident in a matter of minutes. The situation becomes tricky with aircrafts landing in remote or dense areas such as woods and fields, or even in busy neighbourhoods.

High Flammability of Aircraft Fuel

Working with aircraft fuel presents its own unique challenges due to the hazardous composition of the various types of fuels. Aircraft uses petroleum-based fuels, or synthetic fuel blends which have higher risk regulations than fuel used for ground vehicles.

Aircraft Structures and Systems

At first glance, the aircraft systems and structures can be daunting, confusing, and overwhelming. Response challenges include understanding and being familiar with the design of the aircraft and designated spaces within the cabin.

Confined Spaces and Evacuation

Responding to various sizes of aircraft emergencies presents the challenge of fighting fires within confined spaces to successfully evacuate trapped passengers and crew. These spaces include cockpits, cargo holds, engine compartments, and within the aircraft cabin itself.

Danger of Jet Engine Ingestion 

A firefighter needs to keep their safety in mind when attending a fire, particularly one dealing with the jet engines of an aircraft. The jet engine ingestion is a dangerous situation as the powerful components draw in air which pulls in any object or person within the designated area.

Aviation-Specific Firefighting Tactics 

An aircraft fire presents different challenges than that of a structure fire. The location, extreme temperatures, and adverse weather conditions can increase the risk for passengers, crew, and emergency responders themselves.

Collaboration and Coordination

Aircraft firefighter training must involve learning the importance of working closely with other related industries in responding to an emergency. In coordinating to respond to aircraft fires, various members of medical teams, law enforcement, and airport personnel collaborate. 

Not Having Enough Trained Firefighters

As with many emergency response careers, there is a lack of trained firefighters, especially in the aircraft emergency response industry. It is crucial to provide firefighters with access to the proper training and work opportunities in becoming an aircraft firefighter.

How Can FESTI Help Aircraft Firefighters with ARFF Training?

Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) certification is key in becoming an aviation firefighter by completing the ARFF courses.

Based at the country’s largest airport, the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) enables aircraft firefighters to receive active training through certification programs and courses. Real-world experiences are incorporated into every exercise and learning session.

NFPA 1003 IFE Airport Firefighter Professional

The NFPA 1003 IFE Airport Firefighter Professional certification is part of the ARFF training which is designed for all firefighters assigned to aircraft fire and rescue. Under the stipulations of NFPA 1003 and the Canadian Aviation Regulations 323.14, this course focuses on ARFF vehicles, equipment, use of extinguishing agents, and airport familiarization.

ARFF Awareness for Structural Firefighters

ARFF certification courses such as the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Awareness program is designed for municipal fire departments with a designated airport within the jurisdiction. Response procedures, hazards, positioning apparatus, fire control, and rescue operations are part of the course. It provides an intro to specialized aircraft rescue firefighting vehicles.

Airport Firefighter I.A.W. CARs 323.14

Training for aviation firefighters involves certification of Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) in accordance with Canadian Aviation Regulations 323.14. Of the 11 modules, firefighter safety, fire behaviour, extinguishing agents, personal protective equipment, and communication is incorporated. It covers airport preplan, airport familiarization, aircraft familiarization, apparatus, rescue operations, and strategic and tactical operations.

ARFF Vehicle Service Course and Test

Aviation firefighters will receive the knowledge and certification for the annual service test by the Canadian Aviation Regulation standard 323. This program provides testing requirements, performance criteria, conducts pre-test pump delivery, tests methods and calculations, pressurized agent purging and venting, acceleration test, and brake operation tests.

NFPA 1002 [Chapter 9] – Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator 

Certification and accreditation of the NFPA 1002 Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator involves requirements for personnel responsible for operating the machinery in non-emergency and emergency scenarios.

ARFF Recertification – 1 Day

Current airport firefighters work with Fire Service Instructors for evaluation of the I.A.W. Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) 323.14 Compliant Recertification checklist. Recertification provides simulations and scenarios based on response runs with the vehicle.

ARFF Recertification – 2 Days

In conjunction with the Canadian Aviation Regulations 323.14 (4) Recurrent Training, FESTI offers an ARFF Recertification two-day course. Employed airport firefighters are able to retain their level of proficiency.

Training Facilities Offered at FESTI

FESTI offers an environmentally sustainable location designed with advanced technology and equipment to ensure each type of firefighter receives superb training. The facility holds a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating.

As FESTI is located at Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, the training facilities for aircraft firefighters are ideal. From a confined spaces building, a rescue tower, a burn building, an auto extrication area, a machine rescue area, a hazardous training site, a Trans Canada rail car CCPX 911, and a specialized aircraft training mock-up area, firefighters have the best training scenarios.

Ignite Your Career with Our Specialized ARFF Training Courses

Aerial firefighting can be challenging to say the least. FESTI offers world-class training and certification for those fire and emergency service professionals dealing with such challenges. We strive to provide every responder with the knowledge, understanding, and qualifications needed to help protect and save lives.

Contact us today for more information about our specialized courses and programs by filling out this form

How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter in Canada

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

To become a volunteer firefighter in Ontario, there are specific requirements and skills you should have that ensure you are mentally and physically capable of joining the highly intensive career. Volunteer firefighters work alongside permanent firefighters in response to emergency calls. Most volunteer firefighters have full-time jobs in other fields but have the ability to respond to emergency calls.

Minimum Qualifications Required to Become a Volunteer Firefighter

Pre-firefighter training in Ontario consists of a range of skill development and basic requirements. The following qualifications are needed to become a volunteer firefighter:

  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Able to understand and communicate in English and/or French (written and oral)
  • Physically able to perform tasks and duties of the job
  • Able to commit scheduled time to training
  • Live and/or work in the response area
  • Be of sound and positive ethics and thrive in a team environment
  • Be conviction free of a criminal offense related to the duties of a firefighter

What Are the Responsibilities of a Volunteer Firefighter?

  • Work as part of an organized team
  • Protect citizens in times of crisis
  • Perform the duties of first responder
  • Respond to a broad range of emergency situations
  • Provide pre-hospital care for victims
  • Be a community role model
  • Upgrade skills, knowledge and physical requirements
  • Maintain the fire station and upkeep of firefighting equipment
  • Perform the duties of administration, fundraising, public education, or other as assigned

The Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment Process

To become a volunteer firefighter in Ontario, the recruitment process can vary from department to department and if the position is within a private company or for a municipality. 

Informational Meeting

During recruitment time, fire departments often offer information meetings open to any interested candidates. This acts as an introduction to the position of a volunteer firefighter and its role responsibilities.


If a person has decided after an information meeting that volunteer firefighting is still a goal, applying for the position is the next step. A basic volunteer application will involve submitting personal information, education background, work history, and a list of credible references. A volunteer must live within a specific distance of the firehouse.

Background Check

As with any form of employment and volunteer position, a background check is conducted to review any criminal convictions, credit history, and driving record.


A competency interview will take place with members of the fire department’s administration and the Fire Chief. Based on the application and any information from the background check, the candidate will have the opportunity to discuss their experience and skills. Proficiencies focus on communication, stress management, teamwork, ethics, and customer service.

Physical Fitness Assessment

A physical fitness assessment is a vital portion of the recruitment process as candidates must be able to perform rigorous tests of endurance, strength, and agility. A full physical medical test will be done in addition to a fitness test that consists of a claustrophobia test, hose advance/drag, a ladder lift, hose carry/climb, rope pull, forced entry, and a victim drag obstacle.


The training process is an ongoing condition of becoming a volunteer firefighter. New recruits will learn the basics of firefighting skills, emergency response protocols, and become familiar with their department’s policies and procedures. Most training sessions can involve seven to 10 weekends of training.

Probationary Period

Depending on the individual fire department, new volunteer recruits may experience a probationary period. This timeline may range from three months to one year. The probationary period is intended to assist the volunteer firefighter and the department to uncover strengths and areas that may need attention in skill building.

Ongoing Training

Just as hired firefighters must continue their studies and training, volunteer members are also required to continuously update their skills and education during their posting.

Do Volunteer Firefighters Get Paid (Regular Salary)?

No, volunteer firefighters do not receive regular salary in their position. There are some fire departments that offer renumeration for call response, training, or other related services. Volunteers can claim expenses through the federal Volunteer Tax Credit.

Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit Regulation 2023 

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) continues to ensure the Canadian federal government offers the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit to all volunteer firefighters. With the 2023 regulation standing at a maximum limit of $3,000 per year, the CAFC has asked for the amount to be increased to $10,000.

The Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit is available for those volunteers who regularly attend fire meetings, respond and are on call for all emergency calls, and attend related training programs/workshops. Any volunteer firefighter who contributes at least 200 hours of service per year can apply for the tax credit.

Can a Volunteer Firefighter Become a Full-Time Paid Firefighter?

Yes, with the right firefighter training, a volunteer can become a full-time paid firefighter at departments across the country. Volunteer members are exposed to the basic training and education of the firefighting service which can be expanded to positions with commercial, municipal, and other forms of firefighting.

How FESTI Can Help Fire Departments with the Training of Volunteer Firefighter Recruits

The Fire Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) offers exceptional volunteer firefighting training with our NFPA 1001 Firefighter Training programs. We have an in-house program and a blended program that combines at-home and onsite training courses.

Our firefighter academy offers a variety of certification courses for new and existing firefighters, leadership programs, and EMR courses. FESTI participants have successful careers in essential emergency services.

See our list of volunteer firefighting programs here or contact us for more information.

How to Become a Fire Investigator in Canada

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

In the career path to become a fire investigator, there are significant factors to consider in relation to the training, education, and skillset for such a career. If you have a unique yearning to understand the science behind fires and how they behave, fire investigation may be the right choice for you.

What Is a Fire Investigator?

A fire investigator is defined as an examiner of the cause of a fire, especially with cases that present a suspicious source. This investigation involves inspecting the crime scene, taking samples, interviewing witnesses, collecting evidence, processing findings, and reporting findings.

Is There a Difference Between an Arson Investigator and a Fire Investigator?

While an arson investigator and a fire investigator share similar goals and evidence collecting processes, the two careers involve different roles. The fire investigator focuses on discovering the cause and origin while an arson investigator delves into finding out who was responsible for the fire. The two positions work closely together in cases where arson is suspected.

What Educational Background Is Required to Become a Fire Investigator?

Most fire investigators begin as a volunteer or full-time firefighter before gaining sufficient experience and training to become a fire investigator. To become a fire investigator, there are no required educational courses. That being said, most fire investigators have professional and educational background in various engineering training such as chemical, mechanical, electrical, or civil.

Steps to Become a Successful Fire Investigator

If becoming a fire investigator resonates with you, there are several steps that you can take to help prepare you for the career.

Complete Basic Education

Every firefighter role requires basic education such as a high school diploma or equivalency. Candidates with secondary education with a degree in engineering, criminal justice, fire science, chemistry, or other bachelor’s degree may find fire fighter training easier to comprehend.

Join a Fire Academy

Enrolling and completing courses at a reputable fire academy is another step towards becoming a fire investigator. The reason for taking these type of courses is to be able to better understand the science of fires and learn how to operate under the intense pressure and responsibility. Fire safety for self and others is the ultimate goal.

Most firefighter training programs offer emergency medical technician training and fire service vehicular operations. These courses assist firefighters in all roles, particularly as a fire investigator.

Join a Fire Department to Gain Experience

With certification, the next step is to put the education and training to use with a position with a fire department. The on-the-job experience cannot be matched with the addition of the knowledge obtained at a fire academy. First-hand experience of various roles and scenarios with a fire service can help a fire investigator have a better grasp of the actions of a fire.

Get Fire Investigator Certification Training

There are opportunities to obtain professional fire investigator training with accreditation by a reputable academy. The certification can vary among employers as certain roles require an additional two to four-year fire science program, depending on the extent of the role.

Regular fire investigator programs focus on fire research, analyzations, reporting procedures, fieldwork, and laboratory exposure. These involve fires of the electrical, chemical, forest, motor vehicle, and structure matters. Legal courses are also included in fire investigation training as the role involves working with police, lawyers, and other criminal law professionals.

Apply for a Job as a Fire Investigator

Once you have experience and training as a fire investigator, the next step is to explore job openings. This type of position can be found within fire departments and government agencies. All candidates undergo background and criminal checks, interviews, and potential testing in accordance with local laws. Fire investigator positions can be found in a variety of local, provincial, and federal government environments.

What Is the Average Salary of a Firefighter Investigator in Canada?

In Canada, a fire investigator is paid an average salary of $75,804. This number varies across the country and depends on the employer, location of the job, and experience of the candidate. Initially, a fire investigator’s salary can range around $56,100 with veteran positions offering up to $86,490.

How Can FESTI Help You Become a Fire Investigator?

To become a certified fire and explosion investigator, NFPI certification can be obtained through the program at the Fire Emergency Service Training Institute (FESTI). Located on the Toronto Pearson International Airport grounds, we focus on the training and courses associated with firefighter safety and knowledge.

NFPA 921 – Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator

The NFPA 921 Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator course is designed for firefighters, provincial fire investigators, forensic identification members, explosive disposal personnel, CIB detectives, and insurance adjustors.

Through theoretical studies and practical hands-on training, candidates will learn scene examination legalities, basic combustion principles, burn pattern analysis, physical evidence collection methods, fire causes, and motor vehicle fire and explosion investigations.

All Aspiring and Professional Firefighters in Canada Are Welcome

The Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) is a leading fire academy that offers a range of certified fire and emergency services training programs and courses. We are proud to offer live fire training facilities in a state-of-the-art modern environment.

Our private career college is designed with training facilities such as confined spaces, a burn building, a rescue tower, motor vehicle extrication area, and a hazardous materials training site. Our location also allows us to provide practical training for aircraft emergency mock-ups.  Contact us to learn more about our training programs.