Flames shoot from an airplane, and its engine is a ball of fire.
Firefighters rush inside the plane in an attempt to put out a fire in the cockpit as it spreads to the main cabin.
This is an intense training exercise is designed to help crews prepare for something that will hopefully never happen.
“We’re out here doing some ARFF training, what ARFF stands for aircraft, rescue firefighting,” said Todd Dunn, with Charlotte County Fire and EMS.
The plane’s wingspan is 64 feet long, and its training impact is immeasurable.
The Lakeland Fire Department is the first to take advantage of the newly constructed aircraft rescue and firefighters simulator located at the Charlotte County Public Safety Training Center.
The simulator helps first responders because it’s the size of a real plane, said Larry Lippel, Charlotte County Fire Department battalion chief.
“So they have that size, they can do stuff that becomes muscle memory, they actually see what it takes to a get into the aircraft, get under the aircraft, get around the aircraft,” Lippel said.
The aircraft has four engines and different door types. Dunn notes it’s a more realistic approach to training.
“This aircraft was designed to simulate what you’re going to find at most airports,” Dunn said.
Lt. Christopher Caustic with Lakeland Fire feels this simulation takes their training to a whole new level.
“We’ll do wheel fires, engine, cockpit gallery, fuel spill on each side,” Caustic said.
Because fighting a plane fire is different than one in a home or building.
“The fuel types you have, you have a lot more people than you would in a home or a school or a structure most of the time,” Dunn said.
Thirty years ago, aviation fire training did not look like this.
For one thing, they didn’t have brand new facilities, and they used to pour jet fuel on the ground, light it on fire, and the firefighters would put it out.
It wasn’t very environmentally friendly. Now, they use propane, which is much cleaner.
“We’re not getting that kind of, that kind of carcinogen burning, and then we’re able to come back still clean shower, but it definitely helps with our health as well,” Lippel said.
The water used is recycled and stored in tanks for the next drill.