Assistant Chief Rick Edinger, vice chair of the IAFC’s Hazardous Materials Committee, today testified at the National Transportation Safety Board forum, Rail Safety: Transportation of Crude Oil and Ethanol. He called for increased awareness in communities and emergency-response agencies bordering rail lines that transport crude oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids shipments.
“The key to a safe and effective emergency response is based on the planning analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT),” said Edinger, assistant chief, Chesterfield (Va.) Fire and EMS Department. “Each community has a local level of responsibility and duty to conduct this assessment for the safety of their citizens. The industries that produce or transport crude oil, ethanol and other hazardous materials that travel through, or are stored in, a community have an obligation to reduce risks by working with all local officials to minimize the potential harm from these low-frequency, high-hazard, high-traffic incidents.”
During his testimony, Edinger outlined several solutions to effectively plan for the shipments of hazardous materials through urban, suburban and rural communities:
- Increased awareness in affected communities and among local emergency responders
- Adequate community and agency planning
- Established industry relationships before the incident
- A risk-based response approach
- Proper funding and support for training and response, including industry support and federal programs, such as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grant program
According to Edinger, an effective training program for first responders in communities bordering rail lines with crude oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids shipments must utilize a blended approach. This blended approach should contain both web-based and in-person training modalities.
“Emergency-response considerations with alternative fuels must include the transportation industry and should be based on sound planning, appropriate and effective responder training, adequate funding and the development of effective response systems to safely mitigate incidents when they occur,” Edinger said.