Tanker Truck Fire Reinforces The Fire Service Role In Critical Infrastructure Protection

Fairfax, VA – A tanker truck exploded on a busy Connecticut highway this week causing a major disruption in interstate commerce and far-reaching effects on the economy.* This accident is one of many that occur all the time.

“It serves to remind us that the fire service is not only there to respond to local emergencies, but that we are the protectors of our nation’s critical infrastructure and as such, we must do everything within our power to be fully equipped, staffed and trained to respond to these types of emergencies,” said Chief Ernest Mitchell, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “This incident underscores the need for funding of large scale training exercises, equipment and personnel to meet the challenges facing the fire and emergency service.”

The IAFC encourages all fire chiefs to continue their dialog with local officials and remind them of the important role the fire service plays in the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Chief Michael Maglione of the Bridgeport, Conn. Fire Department said a unified command structure was immediately put into place involving the Bridgeport Fire Department, a regional hazmat team, police, highway patrol, department of transportation, the Coast Guard and environmental experts. “Everybody understood and used incident command and unified command and worked together as a team. There was a certain level of trust and I credit this success to the large scale training and exercises we’ve had in the last two years.”

The IAFC is working on Capitol Hill to secure federal funding for the fire and emergency service, including the FIRE Act, the only federal program where money goes directly to fire departments to assist them in dealing with all hazards, and the SAFER Act to fund additional staffing

*Fire departments from the Bridgeport, Conn. area responded to a major tanker truck fire on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport. A tractor-trailer carrying 9,000 gallons of fuel oil exploded Thursday night after striking a car, extensively damaging the interstate in both directions.

Officials are estimating that it may take 12 to 14 days before the highway is reopened.

Chief Michael Maglione of the Bridgeport, Conn. Fire Department described the scene, “A tank truck opens up spilling #2 oil, and cars are driving through it kicking up a fine mist and ignite a fireball. We know that 10-15 cars drove through the fireball, yet miraculously no one was hurt.”

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