October 18-25, 2004

TSB recommends regularly updated training for first TDG rail accident responders

Consistently updated training for first responders to rail accidents involving dangerous goods is one of two main recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) in its final report (R02W0063) on the May 2, 2002 railway crossing accident near Firdale, Manitoba.

Based on its investigation, the TSB concluded that there is a lack of educational material about passive railway crossings for professional drivers of heavy vehicles. The investigation also revealed the need for a consistent approach to training first responders who respond to rail accidents involving dangerous goods.

Accordingly, the TSB's first recommendation calls for Transport Canada to consult with the provincial ministries of transportation and the trucking industry to review and update educational and training material with respect to the risks associated with heavy vehicles negotiating a public passive railway crossing.

Secondly, the TSB recommends that Transport Canada consult with other federal, provincial, and municipal agencies to put in place consistent training requirements to ensure that emergency first responders remain competent to respond to rail accidents involving dangerous goods.

On the afternoon of May 2, 2002, a Canadian National train travelling from Edmonton to Toronto collided with a loaded tractor-trailer at a public crossing near Firdale. Two locomotives and 21 freight cars derailed, including five tank cars carrying dangerous goods.

During the derailment, four of the tank cars were punctured, releasing highly flammable liquids. These liquids ignited, engulfing the derailed cars in a large chemical fire which burned for two and a half days.

Although there were no significant injuries to either the train crew or to the truck driver, a section of the Trans-Canada Highway was closed for four hours, and the incident forced the evacuation of 156 people from their homes for two days.

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