NFTA Transporter

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Airport Drill

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Unit conducted its triennial training exercise on September 21. The drill is required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration. The intent of the comprehensive crisis management exercise is to provide an opportunity to test the collaborative efforts of first responders including local, state and federal law enforcement and emergency response agencies.

The exercise scenario was designed around a Boeing 727 airplane with 80 passengers on board making a low-impact crash landing off the runway after being diverted to BNIA when smoke was reported in the cockpit. In addition, an Improvised Explosive Device was on board, adding another element to the exercise involving law enforcement and K-9 teams.

Captain Bill Major is extremely grateful for all of the work that went into making the drill an effective one and said, “As I stood before all of our participants on the day of the exercise I was filled with emotion and pride as we were about to embark on an application of this size. We will take the momentum gained from such an experience to improve our best practices for responding to emergencies at the Airport. Our hope is that the participating agencies also learned from this event and will take the lessons learned back to their communities.”

Participants of the exercise were graded on their ability to respond to the dynamics of the event and how well they all worked together. About the exercise, Chief Edward McDonald said, "As the New Fire Chief I'm very impressed with everyone's positive proactive attitude and dedication to have a successful drill of this magnitude. I would like to commend Acting Chief Bill Major for his outstanding efforts in orchestrating a drill that encompassed NFTA, County, State, Federal, Mutual Aid Agencies, Medical and Airline representatives. I also would like to recognize our fire department; they all did an outstanding job from start to finish."

Aircraft rescue and firefighting is a special category of firefighting that involves the response to hazard mitigation, evacuation and possible rescue of passengers and crew of an aircraft involved in an emergency. The BNIA unit consists of 36 firefighters, four captains, one chief and eight pieces of crash/firefighting apparatus. Buffalo Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting personnel respond to aircraft, flight alerts, crashes, emergency medical service calls on airport property and to requests for mutual aid from local fire departments as was the case with Colgan Air Flight 3407 that occurred in Clarence in 2009.