Mai Hester
Public Information Officer
Office of the State Fire Marshal
800 SW Jackson, Suite 104
Topeka, KS 66612-1216
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Calendar of Events

Railroad Emergency Response and Hazardous Materials Awareness

  • Dates: 12 – 13 Sep, 2013
  • Location: Salina, KS, USA
  • Address: Crisis City Training Center
  • Email:
  • Phone: 785-826-3771


BNSF presents these sessions as a familiarization to the railroad industry for community emergency responders.  No level of knowledge of the industry or of emergency response to hazardous materials incidents is prerequisite.  The sessions are taught from a rail industry and hazardous materials perspective rather than from just BNSF’s perspective.  This is to ensure that participants receive a better understanding of the hazardous materials regulations that apply to land transportation and, in particular, to the rail industry.  Only as a secondary stance are BNSF-specific and other rail carrier practices presented.  These sessions are not intended to certify responders in tank car leak mitigation.


BNSF provides the session free of charge.


The complete class is typically four hours:

  • 2.0 hours classroom
  • 1.5 hours outside on rail equipment

The class length can be modified to include material of local interest.  The outline provided below reflects the most common session content presented.


The classroom portion is not limited.  The outside portion, however, is usually limited to forty students.  This restriction is based on the number of instructors and the number of rotation stations used, but is flexible based on circumstances. 


The classroom portion is a lecture based on a PowerPoint presentation using photographs in conjunction with a fifty-page reference book (which is given to each student).  The book contains information about the railroads and some of the images from the presentation.  It is used throughout the classroom portion of the training and provides a good future reference for the participants.


For the outside portion of the training, solid shoes (high top boots are preferred) are required.  No sandals are permitted.  Gloves are optional, but are preferable.


The topics presented during the classroom portion of the course typically include:

  • Safety considerations while working around a railroad
  • Flagging procedures to stop a train
  • Emergency contact phone numbers and methods
  • Types of hazardous materials transported
  • Shipping papers used in transportation of hazardous materials
  • Understanding and use of a train list
  • Hazard classification review
  • Placarding and marking (criteria and anomalies)
  • Railroad’s role in an incident command system
  • Types of railroad cars and locomotives
  • Features of low pressure tank cars
  • Features of high pressure tank cars
  • Features of intermodal portable tank containers
  • Features of railroad locomotives
  • Basics of tank car damage assessment
  • The outside portion of the course includes the following topics:
  • Tank car construction and safety features
  • Rail car nomenclature
  • Tank car valves and fittings