Just who are those “men in black” you likely see when flying in or out of Wichita? They’re not just police officers. Our Airport Police and Fire Officers are highly trained as Kansas certified law enforcement officers, aircraft rescue firefighters, emergency medical technicians, as well as being trained in airport operations. There are 24 officers, three lieutenants, and three Captains in this division. As law enforcement officers they receive roughly 800-plus hours of training to become a certified law enforcement officer. With that certification they must receive a minimum of 40 hours of training each year in various law enforcement topics that must meet minimum qualification with their service weapon. Most years they receive training on active shooter, legal updates, car stops, and racial and biased-based policing.
Each officer also must receive Kansas certification as an emergency medical technician. Once certified through the state they must have 28 hours of continuing education in topics determined by the state of Kansas every two years. On top of the continuing education, each EMT must be credentialed through Sedgwick County every two years. This requires passing a written test as well as set practical skill exams.
Officers begin their career by attending a two-week training course at Hutchinson Community College and finish with State testing to receive Fire I, Fire II and Hazardous Materials certifications. Once that is complete each officer goes to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to spend a week attending a Basic Aircraft Rescue Firefighting class. While they are out training, they must receive the training required by the FAA on 11 aircraft rescue topics every 12 months. Some of these topics are aircraft and airport familiarization, firefighter safety, driver training, extinguishing agents, fire operations, and several others.
In order for the Airport to be an approved FAA certificated airport that allows commercial airlines to operate in ICT, one of the requirements is that each of the Airport’s cross-trained Police and Fire Officers must have a minimum of one live fire in twelve months at a qualified burn pit. Recently they had the opportunity to work with one of the best organizations in the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) industry at McConnell Air Force Base. Our officers began this partnership with MAFB last year. By training at MAFB, our officers receive live fire training at a state-of-the-art fire training pit as well as build relationships with other aircraft rescue firefighters in Wichita.
McConnell Air Force Base Fire Department (MAFB) has a propane-fueled and computer-controlled ARFF trainer that allows us to meet this qualification in a safe and environmentally compatible setting. This training not only allows us to gain this qualification, but we continue to build on the great relationship we have with the Air Force and it also allows us to work together to build an even better Mutual Aid response in the event that either of us is called upon to help the other.
When not in training on one of these topics, our officers also assist our airport operations team with inspecting the airfield to ensure it is safe for aircraft to take off and land. This adds another topic of training to review each month.
Working as an Airport Police and Firefighter at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport is a job that offers a great deal of variety, with two aircraft manufacturers, two fixed-base operators, and several tenants. Our officers must constantly be on their toes to ensure the safety of the flying public. Too often these officers are taken for granted. We want to let all officers and first responders know they are appreciated and we thank you for all you do.