The Massachusetts District Four Hazardous Material Response Team provided the summary which follows detailing how both training and equipment purchased by the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council greatly assisted the HazMat Team in their response to the recent train derailment in West Springfield. Thank you to Captain John Dearborn of Longmeadow Fire Department for this summary.
At the train derailment that took place on 2/21 and 2/22 in West Springfield we utilized several of pieces of equipment and training that was funded and supported by the Council.
First the Tank Car Specialist and The Advanced Tank Car Specialist Courses which the council supported members of the District-4 Haz-Mat team in attending was very useful during this incident. Members who attended this training, conducted the initial damage assessment of the the tank cars and conducted the initial risk assessment for the incident. When the CSX experts arrived and realized that team members had attended the same training they had, and that our damage assessment / risk assessment was ultimately the same as the CSX experts, it made the development of a joint incident action plan much easier.
Second Foam Unit #3 which was purchased with funding from the Council was deployed to the scene.
The foam trailer was stationed in a position in which it could be rapidly used for both fire suppression and or vapor suppression should a failure of the Rail Car occur. It should be noted that the type of foam stored on the Foam Units is an AR/AFFF. This foam is capable of suppressing both alcohol and hydrocarbon based fires. This foam is also compatible with many types of chemicals and is very effective as a vapor suppressor, to limit the development of both flammable and toxic vapors.
Third; The AREA RAE Air Monitoring System, Weather Stations and Safer Software where all deployed as a defensive measure. The system was utilized to model several scenarios should a leak or catastrophic failure occur. With real time weather input these scenarios would update and give real time risk assessment and show what populations where at risk during the incident. In the case of a release of the product, the AREA RAE monitors would feed real time readings into the system and would give immediate information to the Incident Management Team. This equipment was deployed for the duration of the incident and performed well.
I hope this brief write up shows the value of the investment the council has made in both equipment and training. Without this investment incidents like this would offer a greater challenge for first responders. I can tell you that in my opinion the public was better protected because of the councils support.