Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a critical two-day training drill at the Port of Albany to simulate risks associated with ignitable liquids such as crude oil. The drill, which is being conducted on May 6 and 7 by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), will involve personnel from Albany, Schuyler Heights, Selkirk and the Albany County Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) team.
The State is actively working to prevent and protect New Yorks communities from potential disasters related to the shipment of Bakken crude oil, Governor Cuomo said. From training exercises, aggressive inspections of rail facilities and calling for tougher safety regulations from the federal government, we are moving aggressively to address any and all safety concerns. This weeks exercise is yet another important example of our commitment to train our first responders and underscores the urgent need for action on the local, state and federal levels.
On Wednesday, May 7th, practical exercises will take place beginning at 1:00 pm and will conclude by 5:00 pm at the Port of Albany. Practical exercises will give firefighters an opportunity to obtain hands-on training to apply fire suppressing foam to combustible materials. Media wishing to attend this training should R.S.V.P to Jim Cable with DHSES Special Operations Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The training exercise follows actions taken by the Administration last week when Governor Cuomo urged President Obama to take immediate federal action to replace outdated and dangerous crude oil tank cars. The Governor also sent the President the State's comprehensive crude oil transportation report, which was recently completed in accordance with an executive order issued by the Governor in January. The report, which was compiled by five State agencies, details ten critical federal recommendations and presents a package of state administrative, regulatory and legislative actions related to the transportation of crude oil by rail. Shortly after the Governors letter to the President, yet another crude oil train derailed and exploded in Lynchburg, Virginia, underscoring the urgency of the Governors call to action.
DHSES Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) will be conducting a Live Fire Class B Foam Operations course for Albany County. DHSES offers the course statewide and gives fire and hazmat crews a thorough understanding of the risks associated with ignitable liquids such as crude oil and the effective use of foam extinguishing agents to combat these fires. This training reflects the states ongoing efforts to increase response capabilities to address the crude oil risk.
DHSES Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said, This course is part of a robust cache of trainings that DHSES provides to firefighters to respond effectively to a broad range of emergency incidents. DHSES is committed to providing training that will mitigate loss of life as well as damage to property and the environment.
OFPC State Fire Administrator Bryant Stevens said, "This training program is part of OFPC's ongoing efforts to better prepare New York State's firefighters when confronted with emergency incidents involving flammable liquids. The course not only increases the student's knowledge of flammable liquid emergencies but also provides the opportunity to develop the critical skills needed to control incidents of this type in a controlled training environment."
This two-day course combines classroom instruction with practical exercises that include skills evolutions using a trailer-mounted prop fueled by propane to simulate ignitable liquid fires requiring the use of Class B foam for fire extinguishment and vapor suppression. Although large scale rail transportation crude oil incidents would typically involve higher volume fire suppression operations including foam apparatus or trailers, the principles and tactics utilized in this course are relevant to any ignitable liquid fire or spill and establish the foundation for more extensive operations.
Since Governor Cuomo issued his Executive Order in January directing state agencies to do a top-to-bottom review of safety procedures and emergency response preparedness related to shipments of volatile crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, the state has taken aggressive actions to prevent and prepare for potential crude oil incidents. These actions include numerous train car and rail inspections across the state, broader training efforts, nearly two dozen spill and preparedness exercises, including a National Guard exercise last week in Oriskany involving 600 soldiers and a simulated train accident causing a significant hazardous material spill, and stepped up communications and planning with federal authorities, industry representatives and local emergency responders.
DHSES reminded the community that this two-day exercise is a live fire drill, which may involve smoke and flames.