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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-97-037
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 5:38 P.M. ON 2/16/96, EASTBOUND MARYLAND RAIL COMMUTER (MARC) TRAIN 286 COLLIDED WITH WESTBOUND NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION (AMTRAK) TRAIN 29, THE CAPITOL LIMITED, AT MILEPOST 8.55 ON CSX MAIN TRACK NEAR SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND. THE MARC TRAIN WAS OPERATING IN THE PUSH MODE IN REVENUE SERVICE BETWEEN BRUNSWICK , MARYLAND, & WASHINGTON, D.C.; IT CONSISTED OF A LOCOMOTIVE & THREE COMMUTER CARS. THE AMTRAK TRAIN, OPERATING IN REVENUE SERVICE BETWEEN WASHINGTON D.C., & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, CONSISTED OF 2 LOCOMOTIVES & 15 CARS.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEMA: INCLUDE IN YOUR TRAINING AT THE U.S. FIRE ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL FIRE ACADEMY A CURRICULUM THAT ADDRESSES THE NEEDS OF STATE & LOCAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES TO RESPOND TO MAJOR RAILROAD ACCIDENT & THAT FAMILIARIZES EMERGENCY RESPONSE ORGANIZATIONS WITH RAILROAD EQUIPMENT & APPROPRIATE RESCUE METHODS FOR RAILROAD ACCIDENTS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Reconsidered
Mode: Railroad
Location: Silver Spring, MD, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA96MR004
Accident Reports: Collision and Derailment of Maryland Rail Commuter MARC Train 286 and National Railroad Passenger Corporation AMTRAK Train 29
Report #: RAR-97-02
Accident Date: 2/16/1996
Issue Date: 8/28/1997
Date Closed: 5/17/2002
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (Closed - Reconsidered)
Keyword(s): Firefighting, Training and Education

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Date: 5/17/2002
Response: The Safety Board has reviewed the information provided in your current and previous correspondence from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on this issue and believes that FEMA's position is reasonable-that limited resources preclude the development of a curriculum solely dedicated to railroad accidents and rescue methods. We are aware, as FEMA points out, that some current Emergency Management Institute and National Fire Academy courses contain aspects of these emergency response issues, which some local emergency management organizations have tailored to their specific needs, including the need to respond to railroad accidents. We are also aware that subsequent to this accident, the Federal Railroad Administration in 1998 issued minimum standards for the adoption and implementation of emergency preparedness plans by railroads connected with the operation of passenger trains. Accordingly, in view of the action taken by the railroad industry in this area, Safety Recommendation R-97-37 is now classified "Closed--Reconsidered." Thank you for responding to our inquiries regarding this safety recommendation. With respect to your suggestion regarding a partnership, I have asked my staff to explore this possibility as the Safety Board's training academy becomes a reality.

From: United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency
To: NTSB
Date: 1/23/2002
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 02/20/2002 6:45:01 PM MC# 2020171 As you pointed out, FEMA’s past Director, James Lee Witt, responded to your original request on November 4, 1997. In that letter, he explained that FEMA did not have the resources to develop a curriculum solely dedicated to railroad accidents and rescue methods. The letter provided a list of current Emergency Management Institute and National Fire Academy courses that contained some aspect of these important issues, and also included the schools’ catalogs and a list of outside resources that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) might consider. In the closing, it stated that if the NTSB wanted to consider such a partnership, and provide the funding to support the effort, the request would be evaluated. Subsequent to that response, Mr. Hugh Wood, the U.S. Fire Administration point of contact, received one telephone call (he does not recall the name) from a man who discussed the original letter and FEMA’s response. Mr. Wood again offered to partner with the NTSB if they would provide the resources. To date, we have not received a response.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Date: 8/28/2001
Response: On February 23, 1996, based on information in FEMA's letter of November 4, 1997, the Safety Board classified Safety Recommendation R-97-37 "Open-Acceptable Response" pending further action. Although Safety Board staff contacted FEMA staff in 1998, to date, the Safety Board has not received any further correspondence from FEMA on this safety recommendation. As pointed out in previous correspondence, the Safety Board has found in railroad accident investigations that emergency responders have been hampered in their search and rescue by the lack of emergency plans for rail accidents, difficult extrications caused by inadequate rescue tools, and infrequent disaster drills. The Safety Board continues to believe that FEMA should address the needs of the State and local emergency management agencies when responding to railroad transportation accidents. The Safety Board would appreciate an update on FEMA's actions or plans to implement this recommendation. A copy of the original recommendation letter is enclosed.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Date: 2/23/1998
Response: THE BOARD NOTES THAT FEMA IS WILLING TO CONSIDER WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE BOARD TO DEVELOP A CURRICULUM THAT IS DEDICATED SOLELY TO RAILROAD ACCIDENTS & RESCUE METHODS, IF THE BOARD CAN PROVIDE FUNDING. UNFORTUNATELY, THE BOARD IS UNABLE TO PROVIDE DIRECT FUNDING FOR THE RECOMMENDED CURRICULUM; HOWEVER, THE BOARD IS AVAILABLE TO ASSIST FEMA, THROUGH THE PROPOSED PARTNERSHIP, TO OBTAIN THE NECESSARY FUNDING. THE BOARD FEELS STRONGLY THAT EMERGENCY RESPONDERS NEED BETTER TRAINING IN RESPONDING TO RAIL PASSENGER TRAIN ACCIDENTS TO PREVENT SIMILAR TRAGEDIES IN THE FUTURE. THE BOARD HAS FOUND IN PREVIOUS RAILROAD PASSENGER TRAIN ACCIDENT INVESTIGATIONS THAT EMERGENCY RESPONDERS WERE HAMPERED IN THEIR SEARCH & RESCUE BY THE LACK OF EMERGENCY PLANS FOR RAIL ACCIDENTS, DIFFICULT EXTRICATIONS CAUSED BY INADEQUATE RESCUE TOOLS, & INFREQUENT DISASTER DRILLS. THE BOARD STRONGLY BELIELVES THAT A NATIONAL EFFORT SHOULD BE MADE & FEELS THAT FEMA SHOULD ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF STATE & LOCAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES WHEN RESPONDING TO TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENTS. THE BOARD STAFF HAVE CONTRACTED MR. HUGH WOOD TO SCHEDULE FURTHER DISCUSSION ON THIS IMPORTANT MATTER. THE BOARD HAS CLASSIFIED R-97-37 "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."

From: United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency
To: NTSB
Date: 11/4/1997
Response: JAMES L. WITT, DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY RESPONDED ON 11/4/97 THAT, THROUGH THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY'S NATIONAL FIRE ACADEMY (NFA) & EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, FEMA HAS MADE AN EFFORT TO ADDRESS THIS VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT THROUGH COURSE THAT OFFER GENERALIZED APPLICATIONS. THE AAR'S NATIONAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE CENTER AT THE CENTER IN PUEBLO DEALS EXTENSIVELY WITH OSHA REQUIREMENTS & HAZARDOUS MATERIALS HANDLING. UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO LIMITED RESOURCES, FEMA IS UNABLE TO DEVELOP A CURRICULUM THAT IS DEDICATED SOLELY TO RAILROAD ACCIDENTS & RESCUE METHODS. IF YOU WISH TO CONSIDER A PARTNERSHIP TO DEVELOP THIS TYPE OF TRAINING & HAVE THE FUNDING TO ENTERTAIN SUCH A PARTNERSHIP, PLEASE LET US KNOW & WE WILL EVALUATE YOUR REQUEST. I APPRECIATE YOU SENDING ME THIS RECOMMENDATION, & LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU IN THE FUTURE.