By Derek Rosenfeld
FDIC International 2016’s pre-conference workshops moved into its second day with this informative look at one of the more rare and unique incidents to which firefighters respond, as Woodbridge (NJ) Fire Department Captain Jeffrey Moran presented Railroad Incident Safety, Planning, and Operations in the Crude Oil Unit Train Era.
According to Moran, he initially became interested in presenting this topic after discussions with other members of the fire service regarding the high-profile derailments, particularly of high-hazard flammability trains. “This lead me to the realization that there is an information gap. The National Transportation Safety Board report on the Paulsboro, New Jersey, freight train derailment and vinyl chloride release highlighted this gap in information on emergency service/railroad interface and planning.”
Moran’s background includes working in the refining industry safety and fire protection field as well as in the municipal fire service in a city that includes freight rail lines, a freight yard, and petro-chemical facilities. He said, “These positions afforded me experience in dealing with railroads, petro-chemicals, and a combination of the two. I believe that by sharing my knowledge, experiences and the importance of planning I can enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of fire service/railroad interface.”
Here, Moran talks about the initial preplanning considerations a department must make when considering train derailment responses:
“Currently, freight trains traverse every state and province, and high-hazard flammability trains operate in almost every one of them. Operating on or near rail lines presents some unique challenges and hazards. Fires and hazardous materials spills involving trains are a different fireground than the fire service commonly trains for or is used to, and therefore it requires that strategy and tactics be adjusted to meet the demands of these incidents.”
Moran continues, “The fire service needs to attain current knowledge and training, engage in planning, and establish railroad interaction prior to being faced with a significant trainwreck, or it will be playing ‘catch-up’ while the incident runs its path of damage and destruction.”
Next, Moran talks about rail car reporting marks, which helps responders quickly identify the rail cars as they arrive on scene:
Moran says that this topic also relates to, “The need for a dynamic training and education program as well as the need to continuously keep current while learning from the past. The fireground is constantly changing, but we must also be cognizant of history so we can benefit from the good and not repeat the bad.”
Here, Moran talks about tank car class and specification markings:
FDIC International 2016 represents Moran’s fourth conference visit. He says, “I like the large variety of subjects presented and the various view points of the many instructors, particularly in the classroom sessions.”
The one thing Moran hopes student’s take away from his presentation is, “That planning and interaction with responsible parties prior to an incident is critical to a safe, efficient, and effective operation. Sports teams know their opponent and plan their game. So should the fire service.”
Derek Rosenfeld is an associate editor for Fire Engineering and a member of the FDIC International 2016 event management team.