March 2, 2009


Fire chiefs train for potential disasters

Firefighters given scenario of train derailment, develop incident action plan


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Truxton firefighters Bruce Potter, left, and John Perry, right, help to plan emergency operations Saturday at the Cortland County Regional Training Center during a training exercise involving a train derailment.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Department of State Fire Protection Specialist Michael Miles taught an incident response class Saturday at the Cortlandville Fire Station, which was attended by fire chiefs from throughout the county.
The course is a requirement by the federal government in which response agencies are trained to be proficient in managing responses to disasters.
“It teaches command and management for large incidents such as major floods, natural disasters, ice storms, etc.,” Miles said.
The scenario Saturday’s class was training for involved a train derailment and the participants were broken into groups with each group planning the development of an incident action plan.
County Fire Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Duell said if such an incident were to happen in reality, the class participants would feel more confident to lay out response strategies and be better equipped to locate any necessary resources that would be needed on a day-to-day basis. Such incidents could require planning on each subsequent day, Miles said.
Miles said the group was training to coordinate resources for people out in the field, to connect with evacuation zones, plot wind directions and calculate the amount of resources that would be needed in the event of a disaster such as a train derailment.
“We could very well have a train derailment in this county now with the increased rail in the area,” Duell said.
“At the end of this course (the participants) will be able to create an incident action plan, understand the principals involved,” Miles said Saturday before the class ended.
The process involved a scene assessment, risk management, risk analysis and hazard analysis — all requirements of the job fire responders are exposed to on a daily basis.
“They do all these things naturally out on the field,” Miles said.
The course only reinforces these skills and makes participants analyze the process that is involved, Miles said of the 24-hour course that lasted throughout the week and concluded Saturday.


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