North Texas' Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the world's fourth-busiest airport and serves more than 63 million passengers a year. It also serves another very important purpose. The airport has a training facility that helps firefighters from across the globe prepare for aircraft emergencies.
To date, firefighters from 42 states and 40 countries have come to D/FW for specialized, hands-on training at the airport's Fire Training Research Center.
Among the props at the training facility is a mock-up Airbus A380 – the only one of its kind in the world.
"Everything is bigger and better in Texas," said D/FW Airport Fire Chief Brian McKinney. "We have to be prepared to be able to respond, be able to manage and mitigate those incidents and, God forbid, accidents. And that requires training, and we're one of the world's best here at D/FW."
A group of firefighters from Quebec City Airport were recently training at D/FW for their annual certification. Their chief chose to train his team at D/FW because of its world-class reputation.
"They've been able to tailor the program that fits the needs of our guys for this year's training," said Quebec Airport Fire Chief Serge St-Laurent. "Here you have real stuff to do real training."
The training center was built 10 years after Delta Flight 191 crashed just shy of the runway at D/FW.
Soon after, the Federal Aviation Administration took notice and partnered with D/FW to become a regional training center.
Two years ago the FAA gave D/FW $19.2 million to improve and expand the facility, making it the premiere training center in the U.S. and beyond.
"This is the envy of the industry," said McKinney.