PITTSTON TOWNSHIP — Area firefighters and airport officials want to make sure you’re safe the next time you fly. That’s why training is now underway for aircraft emergencies.
The training session at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is required for operations crews at commercial airports.
The simulated fuel fires are five times hotter than a regular house fire and instructors work to make it as realistic as possible.
Classroom training for an aircraft fire can be limiting which is why firefighters are suite up for a much more serious lesson at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport.
“Probably around 2000 degree Fahrenheit. The type of gear they have is proximity gear, which means they can get close to fire. They probably can’t walk through the fire,” said instructor John Yuhas.
The FAA requires training every year for all commercial airport operations crews. Crews must battle staged fuel and engine fires and make rescues.
“You can’t see your hand in front of your face because of that smoke. And that could be the situation in an aircraft.”
To make the simulation as realistic as possible, the fuel fire is much hotter than an average structure fire. Not to mention, there are screams coming from the simulator as if there were people inside.
“People are panicked, and they’re in a state of panic. So they’re just screaming and running wherever they can be. So it definitely is an added incentive for us,” said airport operations supervisor Bob Grunza.
Propane is used to start these controlled fires in a specialized fire training simulator that looks like an aircraft.
Mutual aid crews on hand say teamwork is used to fight them.
“It takes a lot more water and a lot more effort to put them out and teamwork is one of the biggest things. Everybody has to work together,” said Lt. Patrick Kaczmarczyk of the Hughestown Fire Department.
Airport crews from Williamsport, Reading, and Binghamton were also at the training session as well as several mutual aid fire crews.
Training will continue at the airport Saturday.