Archive for July, 2012

Ohio Train Derailment and Ethanol Explosion Illustrates Importance of Planning for Ethanol HazMat Incidents

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Author: David Willauer, Manager, Transportation & Geospatial Technologies Division, IEM

This week’s Ohio railcar derailment and subsequent ethanol explosion in Ohio is another reminder that ethanol transport poses unique risks for firefighters. Unlike petroleum fires, ethanol fires require special alcohol-resistant foam, or AT-AFFF, to extinguish. However, AT-AFFF foam is still something many fire departments simply do not have on hand. But that is changing. Ethanol is now the number one HAZMAT commodity shipped by rail in the United States and the number of railcars shipping ethanol annually continues to rise.

Last October we saw firsthand how ethanol plants are also helping local fire companies with ethanol fires. Two ethanol plants provided fire-fighting foam to crews battling a major ethanol blaze that broke out in the early hours of October 7, 2011, just outside Tiskilwa in rural northwest Illinois after a train derailed there and prompted the evacuation of the town’s 745 residents. (more…)

A Command Training Center for Multiple Agencies: A Capstone Project

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Author: Dawn Essenmacher, Emergency Management Associate, IEM

To complete the Masters of Emergency Services Administration program at California State University, Long Beach, Ray Melendrez (Oceanside Fire Department Administration personnel) and I created a capstone project team that embarked on a collaborative undertaking with the Oceanside Fire Department in Oceanside, California. A capstone project is a large project intended to be a tangible demonstration of knowledge gained in the program and of competence in the field. Our project pioneered taking a fire service concept and applied it to the larger Emergency Management field, creating a  fiscally conservative development plan.

Our specific capstone project was the planning phase for a Command Training Center (CTC) for the Oceanside Fire Department. A concept that has been used in the fire service, a CTC is a specific training facility that uses computer simulation software to train incident commanders with real-time and realistic incident simulations. These simulations allow decision makers to safely be “in charge” where they can practice and hone their decision making skills before having to perform these at an actual incident. (more…)