The FAA issued a warning letter to Mammoth-Yosemite Airport and said the facility must take corrective action related to fire fighting equipment and training. The Town of Mammoth issued its own press release which called the FAA letter a “positive outcome.”
The FAA letter, dated April 6, says that on February 9, the FAA office received information that alleged Mammoth Airport failed to provide the minimum required fire fighting capability and that the crash truck did not carry “sufficient amounts of fire suppressing agent.” Brian Armstrong, Manager of the Safety and Standards Branch of the FAA wrote that an investigation revealed Mammoth Airport did not have the required amounts of fire suppressing agent. The letter says each crash truck must carry an amount of fire suppressing foam that would “mix with twice the water required to be carried by the vehicle.”
The FAA states that Mammoth Airport’s crash truck did not carry enough fire suppressing foam. But the letter then seems to let Mammoth Airport off the hook to some degree by saying “It appears that the airport was unaware of the regulatory requirement….” The FAA says Mammoth Airport met one regulation but not another and “believed they were meeting the regulatory requirements.”
Former Mammoth Airport employee, Doug Kriese, maintains that Airport Manager Bill Manning knew there was not enough foaming agent but declined to borrow some from Mammoth Fire Department. Kreise says Manning refused and said, “We don’t want to look stupid. We’ll hope nothing happens and no one finds out.”
Manning said Tuesday, “That sounds like something I might say, but Mammoth Fire uses a different foam from ours.” Manning said Kriese never asked him about this. Manning said he had asked Kriese to inventory the foam before the fire drill in which they used it. He said they used more than they thought they would and then discovered there was not much more. “We ordered more,” said Manning. The foam did not arrive for some three weeks. He also said that FAA rules are a little convoluted. Doug Kriese said Manning never instructed him to inventory the foam.
The FAA also said that the investigation revealed that the October 2010 live fire exercise at the airport “did not provide the acceptable level of training dictated by the Administrator.”
The letter says Mammoth Airport must assure that each fire vehicle required to carry foam has the right amount and that all airport fire fighters must receive an acceptable level of training. The letter notes that the airport did take corrective action on both counts and that “the matter does not warrant legal enforcement.”