First Responders Get a First Look at Oil Railcars - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

First Responders Get a First Look at Oil Railcars

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An explosive train derailment in Casselton North Dakota forever changed how responders look at accidents.. involving crude oil from the Bakken.

Now, firefighters in the state have to have a plan of action...  if an oil explosion happens in their area.

Ben Smith travels to Dickinson where responders take on railroad emergencies.

Near Casselton, December 2013

You don't always get to look at a railroad tanker this closely....

But, a group of firefighters is getting a private tour... 

Curtis Freeman is just one Dickinson firefighter who has already seen several incidents involving transportation by rail.

He says checking out a life size tanker is vital to his job-- in case of an oil emergency.

"I think it's important for fire fighters to know what they are responding to, to know ... what Casselton saw and what we need to prepare for." says Freeman.

Responders around Casselton had to handle this...

Possibly the most explosive scene-- in North Dakota train derailment history.

After seeing how flammable and dangerous crude oil can be...

First responders across the state are taking to the tracks to learn what to do if faced with something so volatile.

"We want to make sure first responders have information that is useful to them in their communities."Says Amy McBeth

BNSF railroad officials have teamed up with a hazardous material training crew... to show responders across North Dakota how to prepare for the worst.

"The objective is to have preparedness, planning, best practices, communication in place should an incident occur." says Amy McBeth

Spokesman for BNSF Amy McBeth

Knowing the ins and outs of transportation crude by rail car is important for any first responder.  

But according to Curtis Freeman with the Dickinson Fire Department, it's this hands-on training that really makes a difference.

"To physically come out here and take a look at the cars and be up close and personal ...really helps when you do respond to something like a derailment."says Curtis Freeman

An inside look at the railroad scene-- before they need to be there...

Reporting in Dickinson, Ben Smith KXNews

Firefighters will do similar training in Minot, Trenton and Mandan.
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