The many hats of an Airport Police and Fire Department officer

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Fairbanks International Airport Police and Fire Department is unique in that their employees are 'cross trained' -- meaning every police officer is a firefighter, and every firefighter is a police officer.

An Airport Fire Department engine seen inside their garage at the Fairbanks International Airport (John Dougherty/KTVF)

"We are both a police and fire department, along as EMS as well. So we are a true public safety, kind of all hazards approach,” Chief Aaron Danielson said.

The officers have to perform different duties on different days.

"Even though an officer is assigned to a fire engine on Monday, on Tuesday he could be out doing drug and alcohol interventions on the East Ramp, or DUI patrol on Wednesday, and Thursday he could be back on a fire engine responding to aircraft emergencies and medical emergencies," said Deputy Chief Roger Stevener. “If the situation evolved fast enough and to a great enough degree, he could even do both things in the same day."

Because the station has to have officers doing both jobs every day, they have equipment that allows them to fight fires with minimal staff.

The engines they use hold far more water than normal and
Chief Danielson said that their engines are special: “They are specially outfitted to be operated by one firefighter rather than having a team of firefighters."

They accomplish this by using turrets on the engines that are controlled from inside the cab of the fire engine.

"We have these joysticks that control two turrets at the front of the apparatus, and so as we turn them we are able to turn a turret and actually shoot a very high capacity amount of water."

Danielson said with their specialized equipment, one fire fighter can put out a car fire in 10 seconds without ever getting out of the fire engine.

They also have an engine that allows them to fight fire in hard to reach areas. The truck has a boom on it with a piercing tip to puncture through the skin of an aircraft and spray water or foam inside a vehicle.

Equipment like this allows the crew to manage the many hats they wear while fighting crime and fire on a daily basis.

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