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Minor Airport Mishap A Serious Response for Atlanta FD

Author: Greg Simpson

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2012-03-27
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It may not have been a major disaster – fortunately – but any aircraft response is taken seriously.  In the case of a recent Boeing 737 that ran off a taxiway in Atlanta (GA), while no fire or injuries ensued, a large response of airport and city fire units maintained a safety standby and incident command post for more than five hours to ensure a safe mitigation to the incident and removal of the damaged aircraft.

On Tuesday morning March 13, 2012, a Delta Air Lines plane was undergoing maintenance at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when it ran off the taxiway and partially down an embankment. The plane, a Boeing 737-700 had no passengers on board – only mechanics, who were not injured.

Atlanta Fire Rescue 7th Battalion was notified of the incident at 5:01 am and responded with four ARFF (Airport Rescue Firefighting)  crash trucks, two truck companies, one squad, medic unit, and battalion 7. The airport chief and deputy chief also responded. From the city a Trench Rescue Team (TRT) company was also dispatched. Upon arrival a command post was established as well as a hot zone. 

There was no fire or fuel leak, however all equipment was held for the duration of the incident. ARFF trucks were in place in the event of fire.

After initial assessment of the plane, two large cranes were brought in to lift the plane back onto the taxiway.

TRT members placed shoring around plane wheels to keep it from sliding farther down embankment. The adjacent runway 26-L was closed during the incident.

Firefighters were on standby as the cranes lifted and moved the plane back onto the taxiway. Each time the plane was moved TRT members would check and move shoring as needed.

This process would take several hours to get the plane back on taxiway. Once the plane was back on taxiway and checked by Delta personnel it was escorted back to the hanger, with an ARFF escort.

The plane had serious damage and an investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the incident.

Other agencies on scene with AFR were Atlanta Police, Airport Operations, Airport PIO.

The incident was terminated at 2:03 pm.

7th Battalion companies responding included:
ARFF 1, 2, 4, 8, Truck 43, Engine 35, Squad 42,Medic 2, B 7 Airport Chief, and Deputy Chief, Company 14, Special Operations (TRT), and 33 firefighters.

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