Training Day: Airport Fire Drill

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WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -- A plane burst into flames Friday at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, but don't be concerned -- it was only a drill.

The simulation is part of a three-day training course going on at the airport in Luzerne County.

The FAA requires firefighters to go through this type of training every year so that if an airplane ever catches fire for real, they're ready for whatever happens.

Fighting raging fires reaching almost 800 degrees, firefighters simulated an aircraft emergency at the airport. More than a dozen firefighters battled flames surrounding a plane and brought dummies inside to safety.

Firefighters had to use hand signals as simulated screams made it difficult for them to communicate with other.
"If you have an emergency, there's nothing to stop a 200-hundred, 300-passenger plane from coming here and we would have to deal with that," said airport firefighter Jake Davis.

The plane used in the aircraft emergency would carry 50 passengers and 1,500 gallons of fuel.

Crews on hand were from New Jersey, New York, and across our area.

Firefighters had to push the flames away from the plane to stop more damage.

The three-day course covers different ways emergency crews would have to respond to an airline disaster.

"You can go literally 10, 15 years and never go through this type of situation, so it allows us to practice and stay fresh," said Davis.

The Federal Aviation Administration says firefighters may only have three minutes to properly respond to a fire. That's why organizers know how to take out the fire and remove passengers.

"Training always works the best with repetition, when we have our fire and our emergency team out there practicing, we are going to be able to respond better in the unlikely chance that something happens here," said airport executive director Carl Beardsley.

Airport officials were grateful to have a chance for firefighters to prepare, just in case disaster strikes.

"We don't get very many opportunities to train and that's why it's important to have an exercise like we are having today," said Beardsley.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will be holding a live major accident response exercise between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Airport officials say this will not affect travel.