Local emergency responders underwent training sessions last week to better learn how to address transportation incidences involving flammable liquids. Held on Aug. 20 and 21, the sessions were designed to inform responders about dangerous products shipped through the area and how to answer to potential rail accidents.
“Our intent is to train first responders in road and rail safety and this year our focus is on flammable liquids after the events of two years ago in Lac MÃ©gantic,” said Randy Mak, operations technician at Dow Chemical and the national TransCAER chairperson.
“That’s a big focus and the government has made lots of changes, so we talk a lot about flammable liquids on the rail and on the road and how these first responders can handle those things in case there is an event out there.”
Mak says there have been many changes in firefighting techniques over the years, especially regarding the use of special foam used to extinguish chemical fires, and responders are taught in the classroom and in the field how to use it as well as being provided information on the rail cars specifically.
Crude oil has a wide range of properties, making it more complex than many people think, he says, and responders are taught about things like the differences between Bakken area crude oil versus the type of product that comes out of Fort McMurray, and the different methods for addressing accidents involving each one.
Lloydminster marked the fifth training stop in Western Canada, having started in Ontario, and Mak says they plan on making stops all the way to B.C.
“We just get requests for training. Anywhere we see chemicals and products going through people’s communities in large quantities, our carriers CN and CP, they participate and they’re a big drivers in this and helping get it organized,” he said. “We had a request from Husky and from Lloydminster to come and help spread the news around here and it’s been very successful.”
Many of the trains that go through Lloydminster carry large amounts of crude oil, which has been one of the biggest focal points for the training sessions, but Mak says all types of flammable liquids, like butane and propane, also make their way through the Border City.
“When (incidents) happen these people are on it very quickly and you get all the resources you can,” said Mak.