EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)– The El Paso Fire Department joined the Bomberos de Juarez last week in an international hazmat training.
The two fire departments practiced scenarios on a mobile classroom train car provided by Union Pacific Railroad.
One of the things the firefighters learned was how to patch and asses leaks from derailed train cars using a device called a Magna-seal. It acts as a giant patch to keep the hazardous material from inside the tanker car from spilling out.
The tools were purchased with a $45,000 grant by the EPA Border 2020.
“It’s extremely important to be able to train with the Juarez fire department and us locally here because we’re able to help them out in case they need our assistance because unfortunately we can’t go across but with this equipment with the Magna-seals we also have this and we can help them over the phone and explain how to apply it,” Kevin Dieter, the El Paso Fire Battalion Chief of Special Ops. said.
Union Pacific said there are about five train derailments in the United States daily.
Dieter said anything from hot weather causing the metal to expand on a railcar, to sudden train stops can cause a train to derail and leak out the hazardous materials it may be carrying.
Dieter said the training was just a simulation, but when assessing an actual leak or spill, firefighters approach the situation with an abundance of caution using foam to make it safe for a second team to seal the leak.
Dieter said this was the first joint training between the international fire departments in nearly 20 years.