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Airport dedicates new public safety facility

(Asheville, N.C.) On August 20, 2014 Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) representatives used the “jaws of life” (a public safety rescue tool suitable for cutting into metal) to cut the ribbon during the commemorative ceremony to dedicate the airport’s new public safety facility. The new building, which houses the airport’s police, aircraft rescue and fire-fighting and communications center, opened after two years of design and construction.  “This state-of-the-art public safety facility was designed specifically for the needs of the airport now and into the future,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., Asheville Regional Airport’s Executive Director. “As the airport has grown, so has our public safety service. More staff members and specialized emergency equipment are needed now than ever before.” As a commercial service airport, the Federal Aviation Administration requires the airport to provide specific levels of rescue and fire service, based upon the largest types of aircraft serving the airport routinely, and the number of aircraft operations at AVL. Additionally, the airport’s passenger numbers continue to climb, and this upward trend is projected to continue. “We now have improved access to the airfield with the new positioning of this facility,” said Bleiweis. The new facility is located so that equipment and staff can respond to aircraft emergencies quickly, and emergency services personnel have access to unobstructed views of the airfield. Additionally, the facility is larger with a state-of-the-art equipment bay suitable for the newer and larger aircraft fire-fighting trucks currently in use, a centralized communications center that serves the entire airport, an emergency operations center, offices, a training room, dormitories and living space for public safety staff. The airport’s public safety facility was replaced for several reasons. One, the existing facility was nearing 40 years old and was built at a time when passenger numbers were lower, emergency equipment was smaller, and fewer staff and equipment were needed to provide services. Also, through the years the facility was remodeled or retro-fitted to accommodate the growing needs of the organization, and the time came to design a new facility that would meet current and future needs as the airport continues to grow. FAA and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) grant funds, as well as airport funds intended for aviation system improvements, covered the $4.4 million cost. The airport is not funded by local taxpayers, so no local tax funds were involved in this project. “Safety is a top priority for the airport,” said Bleiweis, “and this new public safety facility helps us meet that prioity. We are pleased to commemorate this building today.”