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Nebraska fire fighters douse emergency landing fire

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A Boeing E-3G Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft on final approach to land June 16, 2017, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The large building behind the E-3 AWACS is building 3001, a former Douglas Aircraft manufacturing plant during World War II, now used by the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex and its parent organization the Air Force Sustainment Center. The E-3 is operated by the 552nd Air Control Wing, Air Combat Command, from Tinker AFB where heavy maintenance of the E-3 airframe and engines is also conducted by the OC-ALC. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)

Nebraska Air National Guard Base --

      An American airborne early warning and control aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, made an emergency landing at the Lincoln Airport July 11, 2019, Lincoln, Nebraska.

     The Boeing E3 AWACS aircraft was performing routine touch and goes on the Lincoln runway when shortly at 7:00 p.m. an engine fire light came on.  It’s not rare to have an engine fire warning light come on, but for an engine to catch fire, is extremely rare.

      The Nebraska Air National Guard’s fire department received a call and responded on scene within 30 seconds and put out the fire within 45 seconds. The onboard crew of six safely evacuated using the slide. The fire was out but the engine kept smoking and the fire team diligently smothered the smoke within minutes. 

      “It was almost like a training exercise, where everyone does everything perfect,” said Scott Osander, assistant fire chief. "They extensively train on situations like this, and they did what they were trained to do. They aircraft crew members onboard the plane did everything correctly in this situation, landed, handed it over to us, and then we did what we were trained to do."

      John Williams, a crew chief with the Nebraska Air National Guard’s fire department, expressed the importance of required annual training.

     “I have never responded to an aircraft fire before, this was my first time,” Williams said. “This was like second nature because we practice it so much, it was going through all the steps we are trained to do in order while making sure the other two people that were with me were okay.”

     Williams said the real-world event reinforced the training the fire fighters already do.

     “It’s hard to simulate a fire, but we annually train on simulated aircraft fires, which doing this training makes this second nature,” Williams added.

     A specialized rescue crew and the airport rescue firefighters go through extra certification for situations as this. These crews have to be familiar with different types of aircraft, weapon systems on board and any other cargo the plane could be carrying. The airport firetrucks have to be equipped with specialized turrets to deliver the foam. The other major part of training includes dispersing foam correctly onto fuel fires to minimize high explosive possibilities.

     “I trust them completely,” Osander said. “It is my job to direct the operations and truck placement and I did not have a lot to do. This team set up on the aircraft just like they are trained to do, they hit the fire and the rescue team got out and pulled the hand line. While they were doing that, another guy checked on the aircrew. Everyone was doing it exactly like they were supposed to. It makes me proud.

     The aircraft was towed to a safe location for an investigation into the cause of the fire. All aircrew aboard was transported to Offutt Air Force Base.An American airborne early warning and control aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, made an emergency landing at the Lincoln Airport July 11, 2019, Lincoln, Nebraska.

     The Boeing E3 AWACS aircraft was performing routine touch and goes on the Lincoln runway when shortly at 7:00 p.m. an engine fire light came on.  It’s not rare to have an engine fire warning light come on, but for an engine to catch fire, is extremely rare.

     The Nebraska Air National Guard’s fire department received a call and responded on scene within 30 seconds and put out the fire within 45 seconds. The onboard crew of six safely evacuated using the slide. The fire was out but the engine kept smoking and the fire team diligently smothered the smoke within minutes. 

     “It was almost like a training exercise, where everyone does everything perfect,” said Scott Osander, assistant fire chief. "They extensively train on situations like this, and they did what they were trained to do. They aircraft crew members onboard the plane did everything correctly in this situation, landed, handed it over to us, and then we did what we were trained to do."

     John Williams, a crew chief with the Nebraska Air National Guard’s fire department, expressed the importance of required annual training.

     “I have never responded to an aircraft fire before, this was my first time,” Williams said. “This was like second nature because we practice it so much, it was going through all the steps we are trained to do in order while making sure the other two people that were with me were okay.”

     Williams said the real-world event reinforced the training the fire fighters already do.

     “It’s hard to simulate a fire, but we annually train on simulated aircraft fires, which doing this training makes this second nature,” Williams added.

      A specialized rescue crew and the airport rescue firefighters go through extra certification for situations as this. These crews have to be familiar with different types of aircraft, weapon systems on board and any other cargo the plane could be carrying. The airport firetrucks have to be equipped with specialized turrets to deliver the foam. The other major part of training includes dispersing foam correctly onto fuel fires to minimize high explosive possibilities.

     “I trust them completely,” Osander said. “It is my job to direct the operations and truck placement and I did not have a lot to do. This team set up on the aircraft just like they are trained to do, they hit the fire and the rescue team got out and pulled the hand line. While they were doing that, another guy checked on the aircrew. Everyone was doing it exactly like they were supposed to. It makes me proud.”

     The aircraft was towed to a safe location for an investigation into the cause of the fire. All aircrew aboard was transported to Offutt Air Force Base.

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