Whenever I fly within Europe, I notice there is always a fire truck present for refuelling before takeoff.

Is this standard procedure for every flight in commercial aviation? If yes, is this a global thing or just a European one?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The title is confusing. I think you are meaning "refuelling", not really "before take off", right? $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2019 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ But so my question, is this not frequent on other continents? $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2019 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @GiacomoCatenazzi Refuelling occurs in a very short windows with budget airlines, so yes, it's usually minutes before takeoff $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Jun 7, 2019 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ But before embarkation of most of the passengers (per evacuation rules). Or the presence of firefighter simplify rules of having passengers during refuel? $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2019 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


As far as I know it is not mandated, but ICAO (for which many aviation authorities derive their regulations) states in Annex 14 Section 9.6 Ground servicing of aircraft:

9.6.1 Fire extinguishing equipment suitable for at least initial intervention in the event of a fuel fire and personnel trained in its use shall be readily available during the ground servicing of an aircraft, and there shall be a means of quickly summoning the rescue and fire fighting service in the event of a fire or major fuel spill.


9.6.2 When aircraft refuelling operations take place while passengers are embarking, on board or disembarking, ground equipment shall be positioned so as to allow:
a) the use of a sufficient number of exits for expeditious evacuation; and
b) a ready escape route from each of the exits to be used in an emergency

So you've probably been more aware of this if you were actually on the aircraft as it is being refuelled.

  • $\begingroup$ I've never seen a fire truck on the ramp at a US airport unless there was an actual emergency, even while an aircraft is being fueled with passengers onboard, so perhaps "readily available" is interpreted differently in different places? $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jun 7, 2019 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS, I think the difference in interpretation is in the "fire extinguishing equipment" part of the requirement. Every time I've seen a plane being fueled in the US, there's been a rather large fire extinguisher nearby. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Jun 7, 2019 at 21:15

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