How the Gainesville Regional Airport Prepares for Plane Crashes

By on July 9th, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a full investigation into Asiana commercial airplane crash at San Francisco International Airport that left two dead Saturday and sent almost 200 people to nearby hospitals.

Gainesville Fire Rescue has a special group of firefighters who train for such disasters.

Click here to download an NTSB database of accidents at Gainesville Regional Airport since 1982.

Joseph Hillhouse, GFR fire training captain, said his Aircraft Fire Rescue team is getting ready for a drill that prepares them in the event of a large-scale disaster at Gainesville Regional Airport.

“We actually conduct a full-scale mass casualty incident, so we’ll simulate a downed aircraft and then our AFR personnel will respond to that to extinguish the fire, and normal response personnel will show up to handle the medical side,” said Hillhouse.

Aircraft Fire Rescue firefighting is completely different from standard structural fire fighting, he said. Members of the team require an 80-hour course certification in order to work at Gainesville Regional Airport, and there are federal guidelines about how many firefighters need to be on duty at one time.

Under those guidelines, Gainesville Regional Airport is required to have one fire truck and one firefighter present at all times.

“As an additional level of safety, we have two trucks and two firefighters that are stationed out there,” Hillhouse said.

Although no major commercial airlines have crashed into Gainesville Regional Airport, there have been six fatalities in two accidents during the past decade — three in April 2006 and three in November 2008.

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