Mesa firefighters saw through jet in training exercise

MESA – The Mesa fire department has a new training tool: a 1994 Gulfstream Jet. They promptly started tearing it apart.

Firefighters sawed and cut makeshift doors in the jet’s metal as part of an extrication exercise at Falcon Field Airport. It helps the Mesa Fire and Medical Department’s emergency training.

The training helps determine if the tools they use on smaller planes or in car accidents would work on a larger aircraft in case of an emergency, according to Battalion Chief Rich Kochanski.

“In this situation, we are trying to simulate that the doors will not open, and that we are having to manually extricate folks through a hole that we make in the side of the fuselage,” Kochanski said.

Mesa firefighers used a saw and other tools to cut makeshift emergency exits in a jet. (Photo by Alyssa Hesketh/Cronkite News)

Mesa firefighers used a saw and other tools to cut makeshift emergency exits in a jet. (Photo by Alyssa Hesketh/Cronkite News)

For two hours, firefighters sawed through metal around the plane’s windows to cut out escape areas that could be used to evacuate passengers. Kochanski said the crew learned using the saw was difficult and labor-intensive. Cutting through the material of an aircraft takes time and more equipment and manpower is necessary..

“This (training) is a way for us to refine those skills and know which specific tool to grab so we can do a better job,” he said.

Business owner Artur Niewiadowski, who refurbishes old planes as a hobby, donated the aircraft. Niewiadowski owns Vision Air America, Inc., a Goodyear aviation company, and a mixed-martial arts gym in Avondale.

He purchases aircrafts to refurbish and sell off as parts, and donates what is left to local governments for emergency training.

“Training preparation is key to everyday life, especially when it comes to saving a life,” Niewiadowski said.