Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
AFOA annual conference
Published:  06 September, 2016

Speakers announced for the Airport Fire Officers Association's annual conference, Hilton London Gatwick, 18-19 January 2017.

The keynote address will be delivered by Carl Daniels, the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme’s deputy senior responsible officer, and will provide a potted history of JESIP, explaining why the scheme was set into action, what it has achieved and what the next steps will be. More importantly, it will cover the impact this will have on joint working between civil fire and rescue services and UK airport fire services.

‘After nearly 20 years, the Airport Fire Officers’ Annual Conference has grown beyond recognition,’ said AFOA chairman Simon Petts. ‘It has now become the RFFFS/ARFF industry’s major thought leadership event, bringing international leading experts on matters ARFF and incident response to our audience, who are responsible for safety at airports all over the world.

‘Whereas our annual event used to be primarily focussed on the UK and Ireland, it has evolved into a major international conference with speakers highlighting new firefighting doctrines and major aircraft and airport incidents. Our growing international outlook is also reflected in our membership, and we are seeing an increasing number of senior airport fire officers from all over Europe and the Middle East sign up to become members of AFOA.’

The changing role of the airport fire service is also reflected in the line-up of speakers. Dean Ulrich, Deputy Chief of LA Fire Department, was the officer in charge when the 2013 LA International Airport shooting occurred. In the aftermath of this incident, he ensured that all members of LA Fire Department received extensive training in dealing with active shooters, a very relevant skill in the current climate.

To take this one step further, Ronald Dom, Head of Emergency Response for Brussels Airport, will provide his account of what happened during the tragic Brussels Airport Bombing earlier this year, while BA Captain Chris Henkey will explain how he faced the incident that every airline captain dreads. He was the Captain in charge when a massive engine fire broke out at Las Vegas McCarran Airport in September last year, and all passengers had to be evacuated via the emergency slides.

Gerry Keogh, Chief Fire Officer of Dublin Airport, will discuss how he and his team responded to a major hangar fire that broke out at Dublin Airport on 25 August, 2015. ‘A major fire broke out in a paint spraying hangar with over 200 people at work at the time, with the added complication that two aircraft could not be moved from the hangar, which was full of fuel,’ Keogh explained.

‘It is a great honour for me to lead AFOA into the 2017 event. I’m very conscious that it has become an internationally-recognised industry conference for aviation professionals, and that the way we conduct our business is watched by a wide range of countries and organisations. I have been a member of AFOA for many years now and have seen it develop hugely. We have regular engagement with co-responding organisations and emergency planners and continue to actively engage with more.’

Matt Whipp, training manager, cabin safety and security at Virgin Atlantic Airways, will be delivering a presentation about airlines’ incident response ‘Go’ team processes, during which he will discuss the deployment of an airline support team and the associated roles and responsibilities.

‘It is great to be at AFOA once again as it provides the opportunity for both emergency services and airlines to learn from each other and appreciate each other’s working environments,’ said Whipp.

Other speakers include Rebecca Milner, business psychology consultant, ARUP; Neil Gray, senior aerodrome inspector, CAA; George Farquhar, Chief Fire Officer at Highlands and Islands Airports.

‘I am also pleased to announce that we have gained the support from Rosenbauer UK as our platinum sponsor,’ said AFOA chairman Petts. ‘Oliver North, the MD of the company, is extremely committed to supporting our association, and we could not organise the conference without his support or the support of our other exhibitors. We are extremely grateful.

‘Several suppliers and manufacturers have already committed to a stand at the exhibition that we hold alongside the conference. Organisations that are looking to expose their products to an audience of more than 200 senior airport fire officials for two days can still get in touch with us to book a stand. Exhibiting with us will enable them to benefit from excellent brand exposure to a highly specialised audience, combined with the fantastic networking opportunities on offer during the first evening and the gala dinner at the end of the second day.’

To register visit Potential exhibitors should contact John Purdy at or Ian Webb at