188th Wing To Provide Fire And Rescue For Fort Smith Regional Airport

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The 188th Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard will start providing fire and rescue services again at the Fort Smit Regional Airport starting in 2018.

Since 2014, an airport firefighting contractor called Pro-Tec has provided that protection to the airport, but the 188th will take over that role.

The agreement with Pro-Tec dissolved after the 188th moved from a fighter wing to a piloted aircraft wing.

"It's really a great benefit to us that they were willing to offer this service to us," Michael Griffin, Airport Director said. "[It's] a huge cost savings for the airport.

That cost could've been $265,000 before this new deal. Griffin said now, the airport will be able to have a more balanced budget.

"That caused us to operate in deficit spending, meaning we were using reserve funds," Griffin said.

Eventually, the 188th will have 15 firefighters working 24/7, operating a new aircraft firefighting truck and two refurbished trucks.

"The airport owns its own airport firetrucks that are the crash and rescue fire trucks," Griffin said.

A new airport fire station is also in the works and already in construction.

"Once we have the new fire station built, the aircraft rescue firefighting response will be that much quicker," Griffin said. "We'll be right there in the center next to both of the runways."

The new fire station along with the agreement is something those are the airport are looking forward to.

"It's been a long standing thing here at the airport with the 188th providing a fire department," Griffin said. "It's exciting to get back to those days where we work on a daily basis with members of the unit."

The new agreement will only require the airport to pay for equipment maintenance costs along with the salary for a new staff employee to provide fire equipment maintenance.

The 188th will take over the fire protection and rescue starting January 1, 2018.