Polokwane airport gets hi-tech fire trucks

Monday, June 7, 2010

Polokwane - Two state-of-the-art aircraft rescue and fire-fighting vehicles have been added to Polokwane International Airport's emergency rescue services ahead of the FIFA World Cup.

During an official event to showcase the airport's readiness recently, airport chairperson Gaby Magomola said the Limpopo government, in partnership with Gateway Airport Authority Limited, had spent about R13.5-million to purchase the vehicles.

"We decided to spend the money on these vehicles to upgrade the airport to world-class standards so that the province can handle more advanced aircraft," said Magomola.

The hi-tech vehicles, known as Strikers, can deliver dry chemical powder up to 27m away, which is more than three times the ability of other dry chemical systems. Each holds a combination of water, concentrated foam and dry chemicals and can reach 80 km/h within 35 seconds, and the ergonomically designed cab gives outstanding visibility to the driver and four crew members.

Magomola added that the vehicles, a first for Africa, would be used mainly by the airport but could also be deployed to assist the local fire department, should the need arise.

Premier Cassel Mathale said the government was planning to turn Polokwane International Airport into a regional trade hub with the necessary facilities to handle large cargo aircraft and bigger passenger planes.

"Through better functioning of the airport, we can maximise its use to accelerate the economic activities in our province. Its efficiency will greatly enhance the movement of passengers and goods in and out of Limpopo," he said.

Mathale added that the new trucks formed part of the host city's World Cup legacy projects because they would continue to service the airport and the province at large even after the soccer event.

The trucks, which were imported from the United States, will be on stand-by 24 hours daily during the World Cup, and a dedicated team of eight fire-fighters have been deployed to operate them.

The Polokwane International Airport was recently renovated at a cost of about R30-million, increasing its domestic terminal passenger capacity and upgrading car rental facilities, roads leading to the airport as well as an emergency clinic.

It usually operates between 6am and 8pm, but the hours have been extended to accommodate special aircraft, delays or emergencies.