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Ford International’s $14.5m aircraft rescue and firefighting facility will enhance passenger safety and operations

December 8, 2023 — Gerald R. Ford International Airport recently broke ground on its new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) facility. This $14.5 million project is intended to further enhance passenger safety and aircraft operations.

The 25,000 square foot facility will include larger bays for advanced firefighting vehicles, specialized equipment and expanded training spaces for ARFF personnel.

We are grateful to celebrate this momentous occasion as we break ground on this new innovative facility. This investment is a testament to the Airport’s commitment to providing world-class safety and security measures to our passengers, partners and community members.

Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority

This facility will support the Airport Authority’s 19-member ARFF team. Staffed 24/7, the team is specially trained to respond to aviation accidents and incidents, which includes rescuing passengers and crew members, minimizing property damage and salvage operations.

This new center will also be used for training and supporting the Ford International Airport’s mutual aid partners.

Our team does an excellent job maintaining the highest level of safety, and they look forward to a new building that supports enhanced functionality and efficiency. By investing in cutting-edge infrastructure and advanced training for our firefighting teams, we can further prepare for any potential emergencies or incidents that happen at the Airport or surrounding areas.

Lisa Carr, Public Safety and Operations Director for the Ford International Airport Authority

No local taxpayer dollars will be used to finance any of the airport’s projects; the construction of the new facility is funded by a combination of federal and state grants, municipal bonds issued by the Airport and user fees.

The FAA has committed two-thirds of the project funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, specifically from the Airport Improvement Grant program. The involvement of the FAA and Michigan Department of Transportation signifies a strategic investment in the community and further supports the expansion of Airport operational activities.

The unprecedented funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows airports like Gerald R. Ford International Airport to make key investments to improve safety and operations. This new facility will enhance the emergency response capabilities of the firefighting teams to better support travelers of Grand Rapids.

Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E., FAA Associate Administrator for Airports

This facility will be an addition to the recently completed Airport Operations Center, which consolidated key teams such as operations and communications; and included a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC). By strategically positioning the ARFF facility and operations center together the Airport can increase response times, reduce potential hazards and mitigate risks effectively.

DLZ of Michigan serves as the project architect, with Miller-Davis Company as the general contractor. Sub-contractors include Driesenga & Associates, Schepers Concrete Construction, A-1 Asphalt, Advantage Mechanical Refrigeration, Affordable Excavating, Brigade Fire Protection, Burgess Concrete Construction, Compaan Garage Doors, CS Erickson, DCA Products, Division 10, Fence Consultants of West Michigan, Flairwood, KONE, Kortman Masonry, Landscape Design Services, Lansing Glass Company, Ledbetter Construction, McIntire Brass Works, Rayhaven Group, S A Morman & Company, Schepers Brothers Inc., Sobie Company, Structural Standards, The Casper Corporation, Versatile Roofing Systems, Visual Entities Inc., and Wolverine Enclosures.

The construction of the ARFF facility is expected to be completed by February 2025.