Sacramento International Airport Says Every Day Is Training Day

The fire department at the Sacramento International Airport says the crash of an airplane in San Francisco -and the response that helped limit the number of fatalities- underscores the need for constant training.

Sacramento County Airport Fire Chief Jeff Metzinger says his department’s primary goal in an event like the one at SFO is to provide a pathway of escape for passengers as firefighters deal with the emergency.     He says the department trains every day for such events as part of a program he describes as ”massive.”

“It’s everything from handling a major aircraft crash to helping somebody who’s fallen on the escalator in the terminal and everything in between to handling hazardous materials to grass fires to our buildings here, our structure fires to vehicle accidents,” he says.

The department has two super-sized fire-fighting tankers, a reserve tanker and a traditional fire truck at its disposal. 

Monday, they were testing a 1500 gallon water tanker with a special attachment.

“It has a special boom on top with a penetrating nozzle," he says. "That nozzle can actually penetrate the skin of the aircraft and extinguish inside for a quick knock down of an area where you might have a fire maybe in the tail section or up high.”     

The department has 4500 gallons of water and fire-suppressing foam that can be on the scene of a crash within three minutes.  And there are thousands of gallons of foam in reserve.

Chief Metzinger says one area of focus for the department is providing access to outside agencies responding to an emergency at the airpport.

That will be part of the diesel fuel fire training session Tuesday morning.   The airport department and 20 other departments from the Sacramento region are participating. 

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