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Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway

NS 'Safety Train' offers hazmat training to Chattanooga first responders

Norfolk Southern's Safety Train serves as a mobile technical training center.
Photo – Norfolk Southern Corp.


Norfolk Southern Corp.'s "Safety Train" rolled into Chattanooga, Tenn., last week to host 195 emergency responders for advanced training in how to handle hazardous materials.

The train serves as a mobile technical training center for the continuing education of first responders and government agency representatives. Staged last week on a track near the Chattanooga Fire Department, the train attracted emergency responders from 14 agencies in the Chattanooga and northwest Georgia areas, according to an NS press release.

"We are focusing on areas where we have significant hazmat shipments. It's a best business practice to help with preparedness," said David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern's system manager hazardous materials.

Among the agencies that sent attendees for training were the Chattanooga Police Department, Walker County Emergency Services, West Polk County Fire & Rescue, Tricommunity Volunteer Fire Department, Chattanooga Public Works Department, and the fire departments of Chattanooga, Red Bank, Rhea County, Wolf Creek, Bradley County, Soddy Daisy, Hayes, Centertown, and Dayton. Also represented were railroad emergency response contractors Marion Environmental Inc., SWS Environmental Services, and Hepaco.

"You can learn about tank cars and boxcars in the classroom, but nothing beats the hands-on training we received here," said Capt. Chris Cordes of the Chattanooga Fire Department. "When you come to a derailment, it's obviously not sitting on the tracks nice and neat. You have to know what you're looking at, and this really helps us get a grasp of what we might be faced with."

The train is visiting 18 cities in 13 states during its inaugural tour this year. To date, 1,710 emergency responders have received professional instruction on the train.

At each location, emergency responders can choose from among three days of free training that includes instructor-led and hands-on learning. The train features two boxcars converted into classrooms, four types of railroad tank cars used in transporting all types of chemicals, and two specially equipped flat cars.

The train's next stop will be in Slidell, La., Nov. 8-10.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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