New phone system helps TIA firefighters respond quicker to emergencies

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa International Airport (TIA) has upgraded its phone system to alert first responders in the event of an emergency.

It’s called a crash phone system.

TIA firefighters told FOX23 they’ve waited a long time for this new system. It costs around $100,000, and firefighters said the equipment is vital.

“Time is of the essence when upgrading the system,” said TIA Fire Chief Mark Stuckey. “It allows a faster response time.”

Stuckey added that the phone typically rings 10 to 12 times a month.

“Any type of emergency, it can be anything from medical emergency on an aircraft ... to an indicator light for gear not coming down safely,” he explained. “It can be an engine malfunction, hydraulic problem ... there’s all sorts of emergencies. Very rarely is it a fire on an aircraft because commercial jets nowadays are very safe.”

Stuckey explained that TIA’s old crash phone was a two wire system and much slower.

“”If firefighters were working out in the station, they’d have to go to the phone, listen to it, receive the information, let other firefighters know what the information was so they know where to go in the airfield. And then they proceed,” he said. “For this one, someone can answer it or they can be in the truck with radios going, and they can respond instantaneously to an emergency.”

The new system is faster and lets all the emergency responders at the airport know what’s going on at the same time, including Air Traffic Control, Aircraft Rescue, Airport Emergency Dispatch and the Air National Guard. It sends out a message to radios and also opens up the doors to the fire station.

At the airport, firefighters have to get to the scene within three minutes. Stuckey said the crash phone is vitally important and saves time when every second counts.

“It’s vital for the operations and the safety of passengers on the airlines,” he said.