CSX hosts first-responder CBR training at SERTC

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Forty first-responders representing 30 communities around CSX’s railroad network have undergone crude-by-rail (CBR) incident response training at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colo.

Firefighters and police officers from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia completed three days of training with hazardous materials specialists and instructors from CSX and the Association of American Railroads.

 The training focused on preparation for and emergency response to railroad incidents involving crude oil, and included an overview of the history of crude oil extraction, chemical and physical properties of different types of crude oil currently being transported, incident site and damage assessment, and tank car design and construction. Participants also practiced specialized response techniques and incident command scenarios during mock derailments.

Participating organizations

 were: Atmore Fire Department
, Montgomery Fire and Rescue (Alabama
); Bartow County Fire Department


City of East St. Louis Fire Department
, Fairmont City Fire Department, (Illinois); 
Henderson Fire Department (

Grand Rapids Fire Department
, Livingston County Hazardous Materials Team


Asheville Fire Department, 
Charlotte Fire Department (North Carolina); 

Kearny Fire Department, 
Bergen County Police Department
, Teaneck Fire Department (New Jersey

Auburn Fire Department, 
Stafford Fire Department, 
Buffalo Fire Department
, Chautauqua Emergency Services, Chautauqua County Hazardous Materials Response Team
, Kingston Fire Department (New York

Fostoria Fire Division
, Tiffin Fire and Rescue Division
, Willard Fire Department (Ohio

Montgomery County Hazardous Materials Team, 
Philadelphia Fire Department
, Trevose Fire Department

 (Pennsylvania ); 
Nashville Fire Department

 (Tennessee ); 
Newport News Fire Department
, Selma Volunteer Fire Department, 
Wise County Hazardous Materials (Virginia).

Established in 1985, SERTC is operated by AAR subsidiary Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI). Its original mission was to train railroad officials to safely handle accidents involving tank cars carrying hazardous materials. The training proved to be so successful that attendance was opened up to other emergency responders. SERTC now serves not only the transportation service industry, but also the public sector emergency response community, the chemical industry, government agencies, and emergency response contractors from all over the world. Since inception, SERTC has trained more than 50,000 students.

“I believe I will make my department and the city I serve safer by attending this program,” said Capt. Kathleen Thompson, a 19-year veteran with the Grand Rapids Fire Department. “Not only did we hear some pretty extensive lectures on the science of crude oil and case histories on incidents, but more important, we participated in multiple hands-on, crude oil live-fire scenarios. And I now have met and made connections with experts I can rely on if I ever have the need.”

”The training we have received at SERTC over the past few years and our continued relationship with CSX hazmat professionals have been a tremendous benefit to our personnel,” said Commander Tim Henderson of the Nashville Fire Department Special Operations Division. “The training regarding crude oil movements by rail is a great experience and the information we received from CSX employees is exceptional.”

“As a rural county, our ability to fund training of this caliber is nonexistent, so we are very appreciative of CSX for the opportunity to participate in this training,” said Deputy Fire Coordinator Daniel Imfeld of the Chautauqua County HAZMAT Team. “This training will not only help us in the event of a crude oil incident but gives us the fundamentals to respond to many hazardous materials situations.”

“This event marked the latest step in CSX’s ongoing commitment to provide a variety of training opportunities for first-responders across our network,” said CSX Vice President Public Health, Safety and Environment Skip Elliott. “Our training reaches more than 7,000 first responders each year through hands-on sessions like those operated at SERTC, classroom training at local fire stations, exercises and table-top drills, and web-based and self-study training courses. The hands-on and classroom safety training helps us strengthen our partnership with first-responders and provide a higher level of emergency readiness.

 Earlier this year, the CSX Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program visited many of these communities to train more than 1,300 local first-responders in partnership with the Firefighters Education and Training Foundation. The Safety Train will make several stops in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest this fall. In addition to our CSX Operation Respond mobile application launched recently, the SERTC training brings the right information to the right people to help protect the communities we serve.”

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