The scenario is: three giant tanks contain nearly five million gallons of jet fuel…tank one is on fire. The call goes out at 9 o’clock.
Sacramento County Airport Fire Department Captain Chris Cromwell says the priorities for such an event are already established.
“First thing we do is we go inside and make sure everyone’s accounted for make sure all employees are out of harm’s way. We want to wait until all of our foam and all of our resources are on scene before we switch over to an offensive mode.
As the airport fire trucks shoot water on tank two to keep it cool, the department waits for help from regional departments. When West Sacramento Division Chief Eric Edgar arrives he coordinates the connection of different trucks from departments who have different-sized equipment.
“You have three by six?" he asks. "Yeah," is the response." Edgar then lists the capablilites of each department, "And Metro has three by six, and you have three by three...”
The plan with a fuel fire is to let enough of the jet fuel burn off to make room for the three thousand gallons of water and foam that are needed to put the fire out. Chief Edgar says the attack will take an hour to succeed once the foam first hits the fire,
“You got a full-surface fire and you’re trying to get that foam on it. And then the next twenty minutes it starts spreading and then the hopefully it’s extinguished and then the next twenty minutes, it’s just reinforcing that blanket for the next, because you got a real hot edge and it wants to re-ignite.”
And after it’s over, it’s time for review. Sacramento City Fire Battalion Chief Rusty VanVuren says there’s always something to be learned.
“Just the overwhelming number of 9-1-1 calls that were coming into the regional dispatch center just at the time we were trying to dispatch this drill. Each of us needs to make improvements or make adjustments.”
The departments within the region hold a drill like this at least once a year.