New York City area airports have training violations, government says

April 8, 2013 3:21:19 PM PDT
The federal government has cracked down on four New York City area airports for what it calls "egregious" violations of safety and rescue regulations involving more than 250 police officers.

The FAA hit the Port Authority with a $3.5 million fine for a "history of noncompliance" with training of its rescue and firefighting personnel at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports.

An Eyewitness News investigation back in February first reported on the violations within the fire-rescue units which are staffed by Port Authority Police officers.

"It's an unusual circumstance," said Justin Green, of Kreindler & Kreindler.

Pilot and aviation attorney, Justin Green says most large airports have stand-alone fire departments.

The Port Authority, he says, in an effort to save money uses police officers to staff fire-rescue units.

"What decisions are made in the board room can cost lives in the field and here a decision was made to cut corners," Green said.

In their annual inspections, the FAA found repeated safety violations for failure to provide training records, for having untrained rescue and firefighting personnel.

The agency specifically cited JFK where last year, 77 police officers served on hundreds of firefighting shifts without proper training.

"What it shows is a lack of foresight and lack of dedication to safety," Green said.

The Port Authority says it has "taken immediate steps" to make its airports fire-rescue compliant.

And it says they are, ''launching a nationwide search for a new fire chief and fire captains to lead a standalone airport rescue and fire fighting cadre."

"For years they were out of compliance and thank God they found it better to find it on inspection than after 300 people have been killed," Green said.