At first glance, what looked to be a real emergency Wednesday, with firefighters battling flames at the Half Moon Bay airport, was merely a training exercise for the San Francisco Fire Department's SFO division.
The team was fulfilling a Federal Aviation Administration requirement.
"What they’re simulating is going into the aircraft and rescuing any members or passengers and taking care of any fuel issue," said Khairul Ali of the SFFD airport division. "It takes about 90 seconds if there is an actual fire to burn through the fuselages."
Rick Franchi, with the Industrial Emergency Council, brought a mobile trainer, saying it's a FAA aircraft trainer.
"It basically simulates a plane that would be on fire, possibly as crashed or wheel fire, engine fire, smoke in the cockpit," Franchi said.
Propane and water are used to make flames from spilled fuel, he said, and the simulator can even mimic the sound of trapped passengers.
Crews also received training in the aircraft rescue firefighting truck. In a real emergency, the truck would shoot both and foam and water. Inside, a thermal imaging camera captures the firefight so agencies can see their tactics at work.