Obviously, even the most highly-skilled fire department hazmat team is unlikely to have the expertise required to effectively mitigate this type of incident.
In this case, outside specialists were called in after local agencies properly identified the extent of the hazard and took initial public protective actions.
It's also important to work with the railroad and its contractors on these events, since they possess invaluable technical expertise, industry contacts, and resources.
If you have a railroad in your jurisdiction, when was the last time you received training on railcar emergencies or exercised a scenario like this one?
Even more critical, when was the last time you trained alongside your local/regional/state hazmat teams?
About the author
With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.
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