Inside the FDNY's training facility on Randall's Island, an exact copy of a subway tunnel -- replicated with details right down to the tiles on the walls -- fills with smoke and recorded screams as mannequins stand in for injured riders.
NBC 4 New York got an exclusive look at an adrenaline-pumping training exercise inside this realistic classroom, complete with a replica train car, designed to teach FDNY firefighters underground rescue skills.
"The more realistic you can make your training, the better people are going to do when they’re at the real scene," said FDNY Chief Tom Robson.
The subway tunnel was added to the training facility just months ago. Federal agencies and military units have also used it for training.
Every FDNY firefighter has formal training nearly once a week and all will go through drills in the tunnel at some point.
Officials say firefighters have to be ready for anything underground in the nation's largest subway system, which is used by more than five million riders a day and sees dozens of emergencies each year.
In this particular exercise, firefighters clear the trains in a matter of minutes.
“Sometimes the harder you sweat in training the better you’re gonna be in the real thing," Robson said. "And it’s something we owe the citizens of this city. We owe them to be the best that we can be."