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Fire Drill at LAX May Cause Visible Smoke

Firefighters serving at LAX and Van Nuys Airport hone their lifesaving skills in a federally mandated drill that could make smoke visible for up to 30 miles.

Los Angeles firefighters will engage in a drill at Los Angeles International Airport between 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Wednesday that probably will draw public attention because it often causes smoke visible for more than 30 miles, authorities said.

"There is no cause for public alarm," said Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.  

The drill is federally mandated for the fire department personnel stationed at the $3.75 million state-of-the-art training facility at the southwest corner of the airport grounds.   

The training must occur at least once a year. Rescue firefighters serving at LAX and Van Nuys Airport participate in order to hone their lifesaving skills.   

The exercise, however, depends on favorable weather conditions, which are carefully monitored before the drills begin. The drills are designed to adhere to standards aimed at maximizing safety concerns and minimizing environmental concerns. The go-ahead is not given until the LAX Control Tower gives its OK.

The water, fuel and firefighting foam used at the training facility are captured after going through a complex series of scrubbers. Water is treated to assure it meets strict clean water standards for discharge at the nearby Hyperion Treatment plant.

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