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Firefighters train for hazmat situations, could save lives

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Grand Forks, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- It's a rare accident -- that requires coordinated response.

When hazardous materials spill -- seconds could mean lives.

A derailment or spill --

"I don't think I want it around here," says Shirley Rothenberger, lives nearby.

-- people in Grand Forks say they hope never happens.

"To me that's really dangerous. It's really hard on the people that are living there," says Shirley.

Shirley Rothenberger lives steps from the train tracks.

She worries for children in the neighborhood like her great-grandson.

"We've been pretty lucky. The only thing I hear is the trains at night," says Shirley.

The Grand Forks Fire Department has spent the last couple days working with a fake BNSF car.

Learning how to respond to hazardous material spills like crude oil, chlorine and liquid propane gas.

"Worst case scenario type things if there was a tanker or some type of car carrying a hazardous material. How we would respond to that sort of incident," says Firefighter Amanda Weninger, Grand Forks Fire Department.

Training -- the fire department tells WDAY News could save lives.

About 50 men and women spent a dozen hours learning hands-on methods for stopping the spill and keeping the public safe.

"I think this kind of training is important because these are incidents that we don't deal with on the day to day,” says Amanda.

A workshop paid for in-part by BNSF.

This comes after a nearly 50 gallon spill just weeks ago downtown.

Fire crews say the training was already planned and isn't a result of that spill.

But the skills could still come in hand.


"I think it's a good idea. Because it's going to help a lot of people," says Shirley.

Training -- that's putting at least one neighbor at ease.