Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Series of Rail Freight Tragedies Encourages Multimodal Group to Push Response Training

Firefighters and Police Receive First Response Instructions for Potential Disasters
Shipping News Feature

US – There has been a series of incidents involving freight trains in the past couple of years which have seen fire and explosions on an almost biblical scale and one company which has seemingly acknowledged the dangers and reacted positively is multimodal carrier CSX which recently hosted crude-by-rail incident response training for 40 first responders representing 30 communities around the CSX network at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colorado.

The firefighters and police officers came from areas as diverse as Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia and all completed three days of training with hazardous materials specialists and instructors from CSX and the Association of American Railroads.

The training focused on preparation for, and emergency response to, railroad incidents involving crude oil, and included an overview of the history of crude oil extraction, chemical and physical properties of different types of crude oil currently being transported, incident site and damage assessment, and tank car design and construction. Participants also practiced specialized response techniques and incident command scenarios during mock derailments. Capt. Kathleen Thompson, a 19-year veteran with the Grand Rapids (MI) Fire Department, said:

"I believe I will make my department and the city I serve safer by attending this programme. Not only did we hear some pretty extensive lectures on the science of crude oil and case histories on incidents, but more importantly we participated in multiple hands-on, crude oil live-fire scenarios and I now have met and made connections with experts I can rely on if I ever have the need."

The event marked the latest step in CSX's ongoing commitment to provide a variety of training opportunities for first responders across its network. CSX's training reaches more than 7,000 first responders each year through hands-on sessions like those operated at SERTC, classroom training at local fire stations, exercises and table-top drills, web-based and self-study training courses. The hands-on and classroom safety training helps strengthen CSX's partnership with first responders and provide a higher level of emergency readiness. Commander Tim Henderson of the Nashville Fire Department Special Operations Division commented:

"The training we have received at SERTC over the past few years and our continued relationship with CSX hazmat professionals have been a tremendous benefit to our personnel. The training regarding crude oil movements by rail is a great experience and the information we received from CSX employees is exceptional.”

All the professionals could expect to learn from the sessions going beyond the carriage of just one hazardous form of cargo as Deputy Fire Coordinator Daniel Imfeld of the Chautauqua County, New York HAZMAT Team pointed out, saying:

"As a rural county, our ability to fund training of this calibre is non-existent, so we are very appreciative of CSX for the opportunity to participate in this training. This training will not only help us in the event of a crude oil incident but gives us the fundamentals to respond to many hazardous materials situations."

Earlier this year the CSX Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Programme visited many of these communities to train more than 1,300 local first responders in partnership with the Firefighters Education and Training Foundation. The Safety Train will make several stops in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest this fall. Skip Elliott, CSX Vice President, Public Health, Safety and Environment summed up, saying:

"This training demonstrates CSX's commitment to helping the first responders throughout our network prepare both in the classroom and in the field for potential rail-related incidents. In addition to our CSX Operation Respond mobile application launched recently, the SERTC training brings the right information to the right people to help protect the communities we serve."

Photo: A shot from last year’s horrific oil fire in Quebec which left forty seven people dead.