BNSF Railway announced today it has trained more than 900 Washington state first responders during community hazmat training sessions held throughout the state this year. This includes 56 first responders who attended a three-day session held last week in Marysville.
The railroad sent another 91 Washington firefighters to specialized crude-by-rail training at the national railroad research and training facility in Pueblo, Colo. Those classes began in April and continued through the end of July. Firefighters from 52 communities, including Anacortes, Auburn, Bellingham, Camas, Centralia, Edmonds, Longview, North Bend, Olympia, Pasco, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver and White Salmon, participated in the Colorado training.
Over the past two years, BNSF has underwritten the travel and training expenses for more than 260 firefighters from across Washington to attend the national training, which helps ensure first responders are well-equipped to address the unique characteristics associated with the movement of crude-by-rail. Providing training at the national center is one of the steps the railroad voluntarily agreed to last year in its ongoing efforts to improve the safety of crude-by-rail and to work with communities on emergency preparedness.
During a typical community training, BNSF provides clear and concise information on what to expect in an emergency, how to read placards, its train list documents and what kinds of emergency response resources BNSF will deploy. As part of the training, BNSF also conducts hands-on workshops using the railroad’s training tank cars. This training focuses on familiarization with the variety of pressure and general service tank cars that travel on the BNSF network.
Part of the training also focuses on ASKRAIL, a new secure mobile application that allows swift access by emergency responders to necessary rail car information. ASKRAIL, which was created by BNSF and the other Class I railroads, provides first responders immediate access to accurate, timely data about what type of hazardous materials a railcar is carrying so they can make an informed decision about how to respond to a rail emergency. ASKRAIL is only available to emergency response planners and first responders, who can request to sign up for access by contacting BNSF at: http://www.bnsfhazmat.com/askrail/.
For decades, BNSF has held the community hazmat training exercises for first responders, with more than 73,000 responders trained since 1996. In Washington from 2004 through the end of 2015, BNSF will have trained nearly 5,000 first responders. In 2016, BNSF will continue to sponsor first responders from across its network to attend the specialized training in Colorado.