In increasing numbers, trains carrying oil are rolling through our cities, small towns, and countryside. They’re carrying domestic crude oil from the western U.S., headed through the Ozarks en route to refineries in the southern states.
The U.S. oil boom is lessening our nation's dependence on petroleum from overseas. But, the transport of the 'home-grown' product is delivering a new kind of risk.
“We obviously have trains that run right through our district so we are aware of that,” stated Kevin Blake Loveland, volunteer fireman and chaplain for the Logan-Rogersville Fire Protection District.
Accidents have been extremely rare. But, disastrous derailments have happened. Fire departments such as Logan-Rogersville are preparing just in case something happens here.
“I feel very knowledgeable now that this is a part that we can handle if it does come at us,” Loveland said.
The crews recently took part in special training session in Colorado. There, fire crews they learned how to respond to potential emergencies. They were able to gain valuable hands-on training utlizing a mock-train derailment, and by using real life equipment and methods.
“They derail them, the light them on fire, we do a lot of fire extinguish-ment,” explained Capt. Chase Park.
“Not only was it about firefighting, but it was about the entire train itself. And the cars and how to shut and open the lids,” stated Loveland.
About 700 first responders from across the country took part in these exercises along with Logan Rogersville. BNSF Railway picked up that tab for the travel and training program- a move that has benefited small town departments.
“There is no way someone like me could have afforded to do that on my own,” Loveland stated. “And the expense of sending 10 or 12 people from one fire department would have been astronomical.”
Its training no one wants to have to use, but is there just in case.
“They (trains) are extremely safe. It is the safest mode of transportation ever,” explained Park. “If it [incident] were to ever happen, we have the training to mitigate it the best we can.”
“I am very confident that we have a well-trained fire district,” Loveland explained.