Ensuring the safety and security of those at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, and in the surrounding community, is always a top priority. While we do not share the details of our emergency response plan for security reasons, we do have an extensive emergency response program in place. All emergency prevention and response protocols and procedures at our airport meet or exceed Transport Canada regulatory requirements.
The Airport’s Fire Department
Billy Bishop Airport has a fully functioning, on-island fire hall and emergency response centre, over and above the Toronto Fire Service, staffed by more than double the number of emergency personnel required by Transport Canada, with state-of-the-art equipment and vehicles which have been upgraded and expanded over the past few years, including new firefighting trucks, a mid-size pumper and a Fire Command vehicle.
Ongoing Emergency Training
The airport’s fire department does regular internal and external emergency services training throughout the year, including a full-scale simulation every two years, with a full simulation table-top exercise in intervening years. These exercises test our airport’s protocols, procedures, communications and planning for emergency and security-related incidents, and ensure that our airport is ready to respond to any situation. All of our emergency response partners, including Toronto Fire, Toronto Police Services and Toronto EMS, as well as staff and officials from the various security agencies and airlines that operate out of the airport, participate in the training to ensure a fully coordinated response to any situation.
Ice and Cold Water Rescue Training
Given the airport’s proximity to the water, the Billy Bishop Airport Fire Department, Toronto Fire Services Squad and the Toronto Police Services Marine Unit also go above and beyond the safety measures required of us by holding joint ice and cold water rescue training to practice water-specific rescue operations. During this training, specialized safety equipment is utilized and trained with to ensure we are ready to respond in any situation.
Emergency Access to Airport
In addition to having an emergency response centre and full crew at the airport, Toronto’s emergency responders have the ability to access our airport within minutes by water, through the Toronto Marine Units, and by our ferry, which would be made solely available to emergency response vehicles in the event of an emergency. Our ferry service has also been enhanced with two new ferries being brought into service. This includes the airport’s main ferry, the Marilyn Bell, which came into service in 2009 and can carry up to 200 passengers, crew and up to 15 vehicles at one time. An additional fire hall, police station and paramedic unit are also located within one kilometre of our airport. Toronto Police Service have also acquired a special ice boat to quickly access the airport and harbour areas during the winter months, if required. Ornge paramedics and helicopters are also permanently based at the airport and provide yet an additional level of expertise and equipment, should the need arise. The opening of the new tunnel later this year will provide further dedicated access to the airport and could be utilized during emergency situations.
Recent Enhancements to Emergency Response
A list of recent enhancements PortsToronto has made to our emergency response capabilities include:
2009: a new, state-of-the-art aircraft firefighting truck is added to Billy Bishop Airport fire hall to enhance its emergency response capabilities
2011: PortsToronto upgrades its firefighting vehicle fleet by adding another $800,000, state-of-the-art fire truck
2011: PortsToronto creates the position of Airport Fire Chief, and recruits a highly-experienced professional from the GTAA to fill this role (started in early 2012)
2012: PortsToronto doubles the number of active firefighters on duty during the airport’s operating hours
2012: PortsToronto acquires a Fire Command vehicle, and broadens the training of airport fire fighters