Keeping safety first at YFC

Mike Ripley smiles at the camera beside a fire truck.

Mike Ripley’s team works hard behind the scenes to protect the public

In 1991, fresh out of university, Mike Ripley started working at the Fredericton International Airport (YFC) as a firefighter. Today, he’s responsible for the safety and security of the entire airport.

“Working at the airport kind of gets in your blood. It’s difficult to imagine working anywhere else,” says Mike, the Fredericton International Airport Authority’s (FIAA) Safety, Security and Systems Officer. “There’s a great feeling of community.”

That community includes not only the employees of the FIAA but the employees of the 20 other companies located on airport property – everyone has a role to play in keeping the airport safe and secure. Mike says that feeling of community extends to national colleagues as well.

“It is a community not only locally here at the airport but across the country as well. There’s a great feeling of community with other airports and other airport workers. We all share the same goals and challenges.”

Top people and cutting-edge tools

For Mike and his colleagues, health and safety is job one, and the airport’s assembled a strong crew and cutting-edge equipment to deliver on it.

In 2022, the FIAA acquired two new Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Rapid Intervention Vehicles thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Airport Capital Assistance Program. These state-of-the-art vehicles will help keep YFC’s emergency response efficient and up-to-date.

“We want our passengers to feel safe from the moment they arrive,” Mike says. “Ultimately, our goal is ensuring the safety of the travelling public and making sure people have confidence in the system when they fly in or out of Fredericton.”

Software and training play a key role as well. The airport’s focus is preventing issues before they happen, and the Safety Management System Mike manages ensures concerns are monitored, addressed, and resolved efficiently.

Mike Ripley and Steve Pelletier

Ready for anything

Along with the latest technology, training is crucial to maintain leading-edge safety practices. Every two years, YFC hosts an emergency preparedness exercise, part of a planned and controlled exercise mandated by Transport Canada.

While these exercises are simulations, Mike and the FIAA team are always mindful of the people an actual emergency would impact.

“We all have friends and family that fly out of here every day,” he says. “This is a relatively small community, and we all have connections to somebody on board an aircraft.”

Mike relishes his role in keeping the people and property at the airport safe and healthy, working in the background to keep things running smoothly.

“Most people have flown, but I don’t think they really understand the behind-the-scenes work and team that keeps it all going,” Mike says. “There are many more moving parts than the average passenger knows about.”

Thanks to Mike and the team at YFC those systems run smoothly, making sure that passengers, employees, and aircraft have a safe and secure experience at the airport.