Aviation firefighting new focus for former press photographer

FORMER photographer at The Examiner, Will Swan, embarked on a new career as the latest recruit with Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting services at Launceston Airport on Monday.

He was one of 24 aviation firefighters who graduated at a ceremony at the Airservices Learning Academy at Melbourne Airport on Friday.

The firefighters have been stationed at Australia's busiest airports, including Alice Springs, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and Sydney airports.

Graduates completed a physically and mentally demanding 11-week training course.

They learnt about all aspects of the job, including first-aid, structural firefighting and motor vehicle rescue.

Mr Swan joined his brother Sam Swan, who has been an aviation firefighter for four years.

He said he wanted a career change.

``It is very different, but there are some good opportunities within the ARFF services,'' Mr Swan said.

``My brother Sam, he was definitely a contributing factor.

``I learnt a lot about the job through him.

``I just want to improve my skills and become proficient around the station and be able to help out the team. It's a steep learning curve.''

ARFF senior fire commander David Groer, Launceston Airport fire station manager, said another three recruits would arrive in Launceston in June.

He said the role of aviation firefighters was to respond to incidents anywhere at the airport within three minutes, but preferably two minutes.

``It's all about response timing and reacting quickly to whatever response conditions prevail,'' Mr Groer said.

``We have 21 firefighters now, including Will.''

Mr Groer said ARFF's responsibilities included first-aid call-outs, airport building alarms, aviation incidents and stand-by conditions, which could include an aircraft reporting a stability control issue before landing.

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