April 30, 2012
Pohnpei, FSM—This afternoon a small crowd of spectators attended the dedication and turnover ceremony for the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Facility (ARFF) building. The state of the art ARFF facility had a $12.15 million price tag and is the last of four ARFF facilities to have been completed in the FSM. Each of the airports in the FSM’s four states now has a Federal Aviation Administration approved state of the art ARFF facility.
Nelperson Etse, General Manager of the Pohnpei Port Authority said during his speech during the ceremony that the process of building Pohnpei’s ARFF facility began four years ago in 2008. He said that since the airport is built on reclaimed land it was difficult to find land firm enough for such a large facility that would also be properly located according to FAA guidelines. The ARFF facility needed to be at approximately the mid way point next to the runway. Site engineering processes set the project back and drove up the price tag as well.
FSM’s President Manny Mori spoke at the ceremony as well. He jokingly said that he wanted to beat US Ambassador Peter Prahar to the punch and speak about maintenance. He told a circuitous story about a little boy travelling with his father. The little boy had been excited to see the fire trucks in Majuro, Kosrae, and Pohnpei, but was disappointed when they couldn’t land at the airport in Chuuk, their destination. They couldn’t land because the fire trucks had no water.
President Mori told the firefighters that they must take care of the facility and be sure that the fire trucks never run out of water.
He was later assured that planners had worked to be certain that running out of water will not likely happen. The roof of the 16,000 square foot building also serves to collect rain water to keep the facilities huge water storage tanks filled to capacity. Even as the ceremony continued the water storage facilities were being topped off by, at times, torrential rains.
The summary in the printed program says, “The ARFF building is a two story structure with a total floor area of around 16,000 square feet. It has two main building: the office building and support building.
“The office building has two levels. The first level consists of two story high vehicle bays, sleeping quarter, dining and training room, kitchen, laundry, exercise room, storage areas, toilets, and showers with locker. The second level consists of the fire department office, AFIS room, conference room, a kitchenette, storage and toilet.
“The support building houses the generator, electrical room, mechanical room, workshop with storage, SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) room (where firefighter oxygen tanks are replenished), extractor storage, and ARFF storage.
“The majority of the spaces are ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act). The office area is equipped with a lift to ensure accessibility to the second level.”
The lift is sufficient to carry one person in a wheel chair to the second level.
The facility also has diesel storage tanks and its own 450 kilowatt generator that is more than sufficient to meet the entire power needs of the facility. To maintain the heavy fire fighting clothing it also has a very high capacity washing machine and a specialized drying closet for the suits which cannot simply be tumbled dry.
The vehicle bays house the two extractors (fire fighting vehicles). They are equipped with one 1.5 ton lift arm for heavy repairs on the extractors. The extractors are 1500-gallon capacity Oshkosh Striker aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles which include accessories, auxiliary and radio equipment, tools and a three year maintenance warranty. The price tag for those two extractors which have been on island for several years now was $1.5 million.
US Ambassador Peter Prahar said that the building will also provide office space for the Aerodrome Flight Information System (AFIS), a system that provides pilots with information on the airport and weather conditions.
Airports in the FSM do not have air traffic control towers or operators.
Ambassador Prahar thanked the Contractor, Penta-Ocean Construction Company, Limited, and the engineering consultant, GMP Associates, for working through the challenges presented by the site.
“I also want to thank the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. congress for making the FAA Airport Improvement Project—here and throughout the FSM, possible,” he said. “They understand that tin the Pacific, the highways are in the sky. You might say that the flight routes among the four states of the FSM, in fact, are your version of the U.S. Interstate Highway system.
“They also understand that smaller commercial airports like Pohnpei International Airport and the other airports in the FSM do not have the passenger volume to generate sufficient revenue to fully fund the facilities, equipment, and specialized training needed,” he continued. “So their foresight and concern for air safety has resulted in nearly $130 million in U.S-funded airport improvements here in the FSM alone in the last few years.”
“As we stand here today, we reflect that we have just begun the second century of commercial aviation. None of us knows what wonders—and challenges—the future will bring to the aviation industry. But we all know that if we continue to work together to create safer, more efficient aviations systems, we will realize the full promise of a bright future for all the people of the FSM,” he concluded.
Deacon Augustine Damarlane blessed the facility and sprinkled holy water throughout.
Pohnpei’s Governor John Ehsa accepted the building on behalf of Pohnpei saying that he hoped it would never have to be used.
He said that the state of the art building would only continue to be state of the art if the people who run and maintain it are also state of the art. He introduced the firefighting team who are under the direction of Chief Paulino Samuel and praised them for being committed to constantly preparing and maintaining themselves as state of the art firefighters and rescue personnel.
The Reverend Bender Endicar gave the invocation during the ceremony and the Reverend Godarro Lorrin provided the closing prayer. Melson M. Darra, Airport Manager for the Pohnpei Port Authority served as the Master of Ceremonies.
The program said that the FSM Department of TC&I assisted by Lyon Associates, Incorporated served as the implementing office for the project.
Funding sources were the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Pohnpei Port Authority, and Pohnpei State.
GMP Hawaii, Incorporated served as a consultant for design and construction management.
ABCOR Engineering and Construction, Incorporated served as a subcontractor to contractor Penta-Ocean Construction Company, Limited.