Firefighters receive crash course in airplane fire rescue (VIDEO)

By Kari Blurton
Hays Post – April 24, 2014

Hays and Hutchinson firefighters receive airplane-fire training Tuesday at Hays Regional Airport. Click on photo to view full-size image.

Hays and Hutchinson firefighters receive airplane-fire training Tuesday at Hays Regional Airport. Click on photo to view full-size image.

Video

Firefighters from the Hays Fire Department put out several fires at Hays Regional Airport this week —- fires that were started again as quickly as they were put out.

Using a mobile aircraft firefighting trainer from the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute, the HFD — joined by firefighters from the Hutchinson Fire Department — got the chance to practice extinguishing a variety of airplane fires Tuesday.

According to training instructor and program manager Mark Lee, Columbia, Mo., the training aircraft travels the United States providing a “realistic” training opportunity for firefighters on how to deal to an airplane crash or fire.

“The re-burnable airplane has fire to stimulate aircraft emergencies,” said Lee, “In the training, we use a wide variety of different fires.”

Lee said the $1.6 million aircraft, paid for with grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Missouri Department of Transportation, travels the United States fulfilling annual aircraft fire training required for all fire departments with an airport in town.

“It is a good quality training to the firefighters and gets them thinking what are they going to have to do (in the event of a real emergency),”  Lee said.

Lee said the firefighters in Hays made the best of their training time.

“The firefighters come out here very energetically and enthusiastically,” he said.

With flames shooting out of the wing of the plane, wheels and inside the fuselage at erratic intervals, the training looks frightening to the average observer.

HFD Capt. Ryan Hagens laughed at that thought: “No it is not scary, we have all had advanced training.”

Hagens did say the training feels realistic.

“This is as close to the real thing as we can create safely,” he said. “Pretty much zero visibility with the smoke machine and the propane fire gives off a little heat — not as hot as the real thing because we have to keep it safe for our guys for training purposes.”

Jason Holland of the Hutchinson Fire Department said the training is important.

“Firefighters can spray water all day long, but it’s actually good for us to water on real fires so anytime we can do live-fire trainings — whether its a vehicle, an airplane, a house — that’s what we live for,” he said Holland. “If we maintain our safety, no one gets hurt.

“In a real event, people lose things, and we like to train in a nice environment where no one loses anything, and we gain all the opportunities in the world to get better at our job,” he added.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster