Norfolk Southern puts emergency workers’ train of thought on safety

Emergency responders look inside the engine compartment of a locomotive during safety training with Norfolk Southern on Wednesday. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Cris Burch, hazardous materials compliance officer with Norfolk Southern, gives safety information to emergency responders Wednesday outside Norfolk Southern's safety train. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
David Lefler, of Pettit Environmental and retired from Norfolk Southern's hazardous materials department, shows emergency responders valves aboard Norfolk Southern's safety train. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
A fuel shutoff valve is marked on Norfolk Southern's safety train. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Emergency responders take part in classroom training Wednesday aboard Norfolk Southern's safety train. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

With thousands of gallons of fuel and acid, a train derailment can create a hazardous situation. About 100 firefighters and police officers from area agencies, including the Milford Police Department and the Columbia City and Air National Guard fire departments, are learning what to do, and more importantly what not to do, when battling a derailment and other incidents involving trains.

Wednesday’s training was one of three days at the Norfolk Southern Fort Wayne Terminal, 8111 Nelson Road. The railroad brought to town its safety train made up of an engine; two boxcars converted into classrooms; four types of tank cars; and two specially equipped flatcars to provide hands-on training.

Railroad hazardous materials team members explained the makeup of the train cars and how to communicate with the railroad during an emergency situation.

The responders were warned to ignore videos that show people climbing into the locomotives during fires.

“There’s nothing in there worth sacrificing your life for,” said Cris Burch, a hazardous materials compliance officer. “… It’s a very unfriendly environment inside during a fire … This is just stuff.”

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