The UAF Community and Technical College aviation program hosted the state certification tests for Fairbanks International Airport fire rescue personnel on Sept. 19.
This was the second time the aviation program has hosted the tests since it moved to the airport in 2013.
The state certification test included a simulated aircraft fire in which personnel responded as if in a real emergency.
Beginning at the fire station, crews were dispatched using radio calls describing the location of the troubled aircraft and the extent of its damage.
“The aircraft is near the north end of the airport. Access via the East Ramp. Smoke and flames have been reported on the left side and near the tail of the aircraft,” the dispatcher announced.
“Honestly, I got goose-bumps hearing it. It sure didn’t sound simulated,” said Kevin Alexander, CTC aviation professor.
Fire personnel first asked air traffic control for permission to travel across airport grounds, as they would in a real emergency, before driving their equipment to the aircraft, — a 727 jet named Joy that FedEx donated to CTC in 2013.
“Being able to use CTC’s aircraft makes the test much more feasible, since disrupting another live but in-service aircraft is quite difficult,” Alexander said.
Rescue personnel simulated actions needed to extinguish fires on the aircraft and on the ground. They had to enter the 727’s passenger cabin via an over-wing emergency exit, locate the plane’s battery and simulate disconnecting it.
“Having this asset on-airport for the community to use is exactly why CTC needed to be here,” Alexander said, “and every time CTC faculty and staff can help the airport community in any way, it further validates all the struggles and costs associated. Watching these professionals earn their state certification for airport fire rescue reminded me that we, as well as the other CTC programs, really are making the community a better and safer place to live.”
CTC operates two aviation programs — aviation maintenance technology and professional piloting — in a renovated hangar at Fairbanks International Airport. The program faculty and staff have been able to partner with the airport community to increase the level of training for personnel working for the Fairbanks International Airport Police and Fire Department, the federal Transportation Security Administration and private companies. This is all in the interest of increasing the overall level of air safety for Alaska — a goal of the CTC programs.