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Thread: train crash with a huge fire in quebec ,canada

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    Default train crash with a huge fire in quebec ,canada



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    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    The investigation of this incident has more twists and turns than a soap opera, and a fire department is one of the major players.

    And it's just beginning.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    The investigation of this incident has more twists and turns than a soap opera, and a fire department is one of the major players.

    And it's just beginning.
    Yes, this is not looking good at all.

    http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/2497875

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Yes, this is not looking good at all.

    http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/2497875
    While they are pointing to the FD shutting down the locomotive and therefore killing the air brakes, I don't see how this absolves the train company from their responsibility to re-take possession of the train after the fire and ensure that it is safe and secure. We do this at every fire and alarm to ensure that the owner/operator/responsible party is now in charge of the facility. It appears that maybe this was done by telephone but the train reps appeared to have been told exactly every action taken and gave no further instructions as to securing the train. The implication seems to be that the FD shouldn't have shut the locomotive down, though acknowledging there was fuel leak? Huh, crazy though killing the ignition sources when addressing a fuel leak. Or crazy thought to isolate the locomotive and fuel sources from each other? I think this is a deflection on the part of the railroad company to improperly focus blame on the FD, but I could be biased?
    Last edited by RFDACM02; 07-10-2013 at 08:59 AM. Reason: keyboard caused misspelled words

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    At risk of sounding like I'm defending the railroad - keep in mind how long you had to wait for a keyholder to arrive last time you rolled on an after-hours automatic alarm.

    The report in the Free Press indicates that the train started moving minutes after the FD left. Even if a qualified railroad rep was enroute, it was too late. It's entirely possible that had the FD stayed on scene for a few more minutes, they would have watched the train roll away.

    I've seen reports that a representative of the railroad did respond, although he was not qualified in train operation so was little more than a representative of the railroad.

    There is also a discussion of the incident on the volunteer forum here. Including some explanation of train brakes.

    There are still so many questions here as to boggle the mind. It'll be a while.
    Last edited by tree68; 07-10-2013 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Further thoughts.
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    I'm wondering how many attorneys kissed their wives, patted their kidlets on the heads and merrily skipped to the airport with a briefcase full of legal pads and freshly sharpened pencils.

    There's probably a line from there to Mexico by now.
    RFDACM02 likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    At risk of sounding like I'm defending the railroad - keep in mind how long you had to wait for a keyholder to arrive last time you rolled on an after-hours automatic alarm.
    As I said, the article notes there was some sort of discussion between the FD and the train RP. I'm not sure how any FD would be held accountable for things not within their normal knowledge base. We all profess to know a bit, but to know enough about every building, occupancy, facility, equipment, etc to ensure that it is "safe" is beyond our control. We require an RP to the scene of all calls regardless of time of day before the last person leaves, 99% of the time this work, 1% of the time we either are totally unable to get an RP on the phone or their arrival is too delayed to stay at which time they must give acknowledgement that they're responsible when we leave regardless.

    If you leave a building after an alarm without an RP, how can you absolve yourself of liability for things that might happen before they physically re-take possession? The expectation that you should have recognized an issue must be reasonable to a court. I'd think this case is similar in that without specific knowledge of the train braking, the issue of one locomotive vs. 4 and the grade/weight issues would be beyond the scope of most FD's reasonable thought. If they'd left before contacting the RR RP, possibly there's a case to be made.

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    Where was the engineer and the conductor in charge of operating the train?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    Where was the engineer and the conductor in charge of operating the train?

    I have been through that town. It had a very pretty little downtown.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-10-2013 at 11:32 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    Where was the engineer and the conductor in charge of operating the train?
    The engineer had clocked off duty and had gone to the hotel. The next engineer to operate the consist was also sleeping until he could board and operate (hours of service and all). On smaller lines such as this, it is quite common.

    As was said, this is a very messed up situation that will take a lot of untangling to figure out exactly what happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    Where was the engineer and the conductor in charge of operating the train?
    One man crew. Common on that railroad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    While they are pointing to the FD shutting down the locomotive and therefore killing the air brakes, I don't see how this absolves the train company from their responsibility to re-take possession of the train after the fire and ensure that it is safe and secure. We do this at every fire and alarm to ensure that the owner/operator/responsible party is now in charge of the facility. It appears that maybe this was done by telephone but the train reps appeared to have been told exactly every action taken and gave no further instructions as to securing the train. The implication seems to be that the FD shouldn't have shut the locomotive down, though acknowledging there was fuel leak? Huh, crazy though killing the ignition sources when addressing a fuel leak. Or crazy thought to isolate the locomotive and fuel sources from each other? I think this is a deflection on the part of the railroad company to improperly focus blame on the FD, but I could be biased?
    Killing the engine on a locomotive is entirely within the scope of firefighting. I would'nt leave the scene until a RR rep was on scene though.

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    Talking to one of our volunteer members here yesterday who works for a major railroad.

    Crews are required to set a sufficient number of hand brakes to keep the consist from rolling in the event of an air brake failure before leaving the train unattended.

    According to him, leaving the locomotive running to maintain air pressure without setting the hand brakes is a clear volition of the law, at least in the US.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Killing the engine on a locomotive is entirely within the scope of firefighting. I would'nt leave the scene until a RR rep was on scene though.
    I agree completely with killing the motor, but taking responsibility for ensuring the train doesn't move as a result? No way. How many hand brakes need to be set for the number of cars and the load? What's the grade? Is this within most FD's knowledge base?

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    Recent reports indicate that 11 handbrakes needed to be set and that initially the operator said he'd set them all. Subsequent investigation has discovered that this likely wasn't true- that some but not all were engaged.

    This seems to fit with what LAfire was saying.
    Ian "Eno" McLeod

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    Here is a website for some basic railroad safety for emergency responders...

    http://www.csxsafe.com/
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eno305 View Post
    Recent reports indicate that 11 handbrakes needed to be set and that initially the operator said he'd set them all. Subsequent investigation has discovered that this likely wasn't true- that some but not all were engaged.
    One scenario I've considered is that the appropriate handbrakes were set, but not as firmly as they should have been.
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    Tree68, The data indicates 72 cars with an additional "Buffer" car behind the engine. DOT-111 tank cars max GVW would be 286,000 lbs per car or a train weight of 18 million pounds and 5 locomotives in the 400,000 lb class = total train weight of 20 million pounds. Adhesion of steel wheel on steel rail is ~ 20% so each car could theoretically hold 57,000 lbs. 20 million pounds on a 2% grade (fairly steep for a RR) has a forward gravitational force of 400,000 lbs. (ignoring wheel bearing friction and starting friction coefficients) Simple division indicates seven (7) cars needed with perfectly locked hand wheel brakes. Will be really interesting as the Canadian version of the NTSB releases the final report. The condition of the friction material and the shoes will be tell-tale indicators that either verify the engineers contention of setting brakes, or condemn his statement.

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    Simple division indicates seven (7) cars needed with perfectly locked hand wheel brakes.
    And our rules call for that number of handbrakes to be set, or more if the situation warrants. I'd submit that parking a train on a grade would be a good reason to do so.

    The rules also call for setting the brakes on all of the locomotives, which would make an additional five "cars." Clearly enough to hold the train if all is done correctly.

    The "perfectly locked" handbrakes might well end up being where the problem lies. Having pulled (and released) more than a few handbrakes myself, I know that it's possible to set the handbrake, but not solidly enough. I've had cars roll when bumped because whoever set the brake stopped when they encountered resistance, not when the brake was actually tight.

    Our yard is on a grade, although I'm not sure what the gradient is. Suffice to say that we are very sensitive to the possibility of a car (or cars) taking off on us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    I agree completely with killing the motor, but taking responsibility for ensuring the train doesn't move as a result? No way. How many hand brakes need to be set for the number of cars and the load? What's the grade? Is this within most FD's knowledge base?
    I didn't say the FD should be responsible for setting brakes. I said they should remain there until some qualified representative from the railroad can secure the train.

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