Mr Steven Toole
Aviation Fire-fighter, UK
Upon meeting Mr Steven Toole, whose recent projects include Fire Chief for Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, one cannot help but warm up to his bright smile and friendly demeanor. Having worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations (UN), Steven has found time to attend four training programmes at SAA, the latest being the Fire Safety Inspection Workshop from 12 to 16 Mar 2012.
Although a British citizen, Steven’s career as an aviation fire-fighter has taken him to several far-flung places (outside his homeland, Scotland) for much of his 23-year career. “I chose the profession of aviation fire-fighter for the same reason as many others before me in that it is a challenging and exciting profession to be a part of, especially for any young person entering the workforce for the first time,” Steven reminisced, explaining his career decision. “I was initially based with the Red Arrows Aerobatic display team as a member of the Royal Air Force (RAF) Fire Service, and during that time learned the basics of my trade and was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to fly with them as a backseat passenger.”
He then moved on to other airbases in Germany for three years and spent a considerable amount of time on operational tours in both Saudi Arabia and Cyprus in support of the RAF’s air missions during the Gulf War. Steven fulfilled his nine year RAF contract and made the decision to continue his career by working on overseas capacity-building projects.
By chance, during his NATO Military Mission in Afghanistan, ICAO was asked by the Government of Afghanistan to assist with the transitioning of their military-controlled airport to a civilian-controlled airport. Steven then transferred over to the ICAO team as part of the transition plan. ICAO is currently waiting for international funding to return to Afghanistan for phase two of the project.
When asked about his personal decision to train at SAA, he explained, “I first learned about the Singapore Aviation Academy by word of mouth from a work colleague on the ICAO team in Afghanistan.” During his first course, the Airport Emergency Management Workshop in August 2008, he found that the workshop not only met his training needs, but also provided an excellent interchange of ideas and information with fellow emergency planners from other countries. “My greatest takeaway was the overall international best practice approach integrated into the academy. I have already used valuable information learned on my courses in Singapore into relevant areas of the projects I have been working on.”
He also believes the caliber of instructors is something the academy should be proud of, “The instructors I have personally met and worked with were all highly experienced, approachable and could engage effectively with many different cultural and national backgrounds to deliver the required course information. SAA also offers outstanding international network opportunities that you would never get back home.”
Steven observed that “Singapore is at the cutting edge of aviation development trends and has embraced change to thrive in a tough economic climate.” Further noting Singapore’s proactiveness in preparing for aviation economic growth, he added, “The airport fire service (in Singapore) had excellent pre-planning for the arrival of the Airbus A380 years prior to its arrival.”
Steven lives by the simple motto, “Improvise, adapt and overcome. Work hard to be good at your job and constantly set yourself goals for self-improvement.”, Steven certainly sets a good role model for airport fire-fighters worldwide.