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Roanoke- Blacksburg Regional Airport conducts runway fire simulation training

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 2:46 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Public safety is top priority for officials at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. That’s why they go above and beyond with a special kind of training.

“We try to keep up and make sure our practice is perfect so we can do it on the job too,” says Ben Cook, ROA Director or Public Safety.

The airport practices responding to and extinguishing simulated propane fuel fires on their tarmac twice more than the FAA requirement.

“It could be a plane where the landing gear doesn’t go down, they have to do a landing on the belly creating sparks that could ignite the fuel,” he explains. “Something close to the aircraft when they’re fueling it that isn’t bonded or routed right could cause a spark and catch fire. Impact with another object, all sorts of things. The fuel is very flammable, pretty easy to light off so any little thing could actually set it off so we practice for the worst case scenario.”

This week, nearly 20 public safety officers will take the wheel, and the hose.

“It’s fun to actually get out and do it,” notes Elena Witt, a ROA public safety officer. “Not like the- in theory the ‘oh this is what you do here, this is what you do here.’ It’s fun to play with the stuff and have a good time with it.”

“I love firetrucks and just being able to put out the fire and see the results of what you’re doing. Everybody is up to speed in what they do and we just want to make ourselves better,” adds Cook.

From practice to practical, making your safety a priority.

“It doesn’t matter, fire or no fire. We are prepared to perform extrication, supply first aid if we have to, do anything that needs to be done to get people to safety and keep them safe,” he says. “That’s what we train for all the time.”

Officials here at the airport say an incident like this involving fire hasn’t happened in years, but they feel it’s always best to be prepared.

First responders here actually went to a call this morning where a gust of wind blew a small plane off the runway. Thankfully, there were no injuries or damage to the plane.

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