REDMOND, OR -- Redmond firefighters took part in two days of live-fire training at Roberts Field, this week. Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Puller says they contracted with an outside company to bring in a training prop - a replica nose and body of a plane, originally built for the Air Force. They lit up the fuselage so firefighters could practice putting out the flames with the specially outfitted Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARF) engine. "If there is an emergency, where a plane comes in and catches fire, they’re going to respond to that aircraft," says Puller,
"And, their primary goal is to put that fire out and create an exit for passengers to get off the plane. Using the training, that they learned here, they learn how to position using the wind, using their water and using their foam, to create that exit way and put the fire out on the plane."
While there's never been a commercial aircraft fire at the Redmond Airport, Deputy Chief Puller says there have been fire incidents on smaller planes. And, fire crews respond to all kinds of incidents and potential emergencies - two in the past month involved emergency landings by commercial jets. Both planes came down safely and didn't report any injuries.
Contracting with the company 139 Fire cost Redmond Fire & Rescue about $20,000. But, Puller says it’s much cheaper to train at home, and it allows crews to work with their own apparatus. "In the past, we’ve had to travel - out of state, typically - to get this required training done. So, with that, we’re paying for airline tickets and overtime for coverage. This year, we’ve been able to have a mobile prop come in, which saves on our overtime costs. It’s the first year we’ve been able to do this."
Puller says ARF engines can hold up to 3,000 gallons of water and are designed for a one-person crew to respond to an emergency quickly, while other units are dispatched from elsewhere in the city, "It can drive at the same time and flow water; it doesn’t have to be stopped. A structure engine, typically, has to park." Firefighter Gary Abrams is often assigned to the engine known as ARF1, and took part in Thursday's exercise, "When we get dispatched, we have three minutes to make it from our airfield to the farthest midpoint of any runway, and that’s an FAA regulation. So, we do these trainings just to make sure that we’re up to snuff on it. And, actually, this month is our FAA annual inspection." Click HERE for a video of Abrams’ work.
Because of the commercial aircraft that land at Roberts Field, airport firefighters are required to complete annual training and be certified by the FAA. Jefferson County fire crews who work at the Madras Airport, and Sunriver Fire also took part in this week’s training in Redmond.