Fire Fighting in Canada

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NFPA looks for input on flammable-trains project

The Canadian regional director of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is asking fire-service leaders to pipe up about the need for an NFPA standard on response to flammable liquid train derailments.

Shayne Mintz is urging chiefs and chief officers to support a project proposal from the NPFA that would create a standard for competencies for responders to incidents of flammable liquids transported in high-hazard flammable trains.

“It’s a call out to action,” Mintz said. “We’re looking for fire chiefs to go to the website, look over the proposal that’s been submitted and send comments and support to the NFPA.”

The NFPA project was submitted by a Transport Canada task force that studied the increase of rail transportation of crude oil in North America. In Canada, the team found, crude oil rail shipments have increased to 160,000 carloads in 2013 from just 500 in 2009.

Members of the fire service are often unaware of how volatile crude oil is, Mintz said. In fact, its combustibility is similar to gasoline.

This year alone, there have been no less than 15 derailments of cars carrying flammable material in North America. When derailments happen in populated areas they can cause significant damage and loss of life, such as what happened in Lac Megantic, Que., in 2013 when 63 cars caring crude oil derailed, killing 47 people.

The standard proposed would include information for both industry and municipal crews on the knowledge, skills and training needed to mitigate derailments of crude and other flammable materials.

While hazardous materials incidents are already covered under the sweeping NFPA 472, Mintz said, given the increase and severity of rail incidents, a more specific standard is needed.

Learn more and submit public comments at

The deadline to submit is June 13.

May 6, 2015 
By Maria Church

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