TAMPA, Fla. — On Thursday evening, large plumes of smoke could be seen around Tampa International Airport.
Tampa Fire Rescue Airport Rescue Fire Fighting division (ARFF) hosted a training exercise so firefighters can respond to emergencies at the airport like a plane catching on fire.
Emergencies do not happen often, but the training is necessary.
Firefighters trained using a metal frame with wings on it which simulates an aircraft emergency. Firefighters battled flames produced by burning jet fuel.
"It's a requirement per the FAA to be able to respond out to an airport/airfield incident. For example, possibly a crash or an engine fire, wheels on fire, things like that," said Chief Oren Hanson, Airport Fire Chief at Tampa International Airport.
The exercise is part of a 40-hour certification class that involves one live-fire training scenario. Flames reached more than 40 feet up in the air. The training is usually done at night since large plumes of smoke may be seen in the air.
Firefighters have specialized vehicles to respond to emergencies at the airport. The vehicles are different than a typical fire engine.
"They have a certain amount of foam that would help us extinguish a jet fuel type fire. They have a lot of water anywhere between 1,500 gallons to 3,000 gallons of water," said Chief Hanson.
Firefighters who complete the training exercise will become alternates for staffing at the ARFF station located at Tampa International Airport. Tampa Fire Rescue assigns 40 personnel to the ARFF station and there are 30 alternate members.
"As far as how many incidents we have that are full-fledged accidents, very low in numbers. It’s a very low frequency, high-risk type of event so they’re constantly training," said Chief Hanson.