Firefighter training
Mason City firefighters receive training Wednesday on how to shut off various types of valves that they may encounter on rail cars carrying anhydrous ammonia through Mason City. The training took place at the Cartersville Elevator on the south edge of town.

MASON CITY — Mason City firefighters got training Wednesday in what to do if there is an anhydrous spill on the railways.

TRANSCAER (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) sponsored Wednesday’s Iowa Anhydrous Ammonia 2011 Training Tour in cooperation with the Cartersville Elevator in Mason City.

Firefighters were shown the various types of valves they might encounter on rail cars carrying anhydrous through Mason City.

Rail personnel showed firefighters how to shut off the valves as well as what to do in other types of emergencies.

“To do actual hands-on (training), we don’t get a lot of opportunity,” said Fire Chief Bob Platts.

Mike Ball is the field manager for dangerous goods and hazardous materials for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. 

“It’s probably one of the most important things  they do because any time an emergency responder can learn more about what they potentially respond to it’s going to be good for everyone,” Ball said.

“The department has a better understanding of something they may not see on a day-to-day basis.”

 Firefighters also climbed into the cab of the locomotive to learn more about what to do if they are called to a crash scene.

“We’re not going out the door and we’re not going out the windows,” Ball said, laying out the possibilities in locomotive crashes. “The windows are bulletproof and designed to withstand 60 mile per hour impacts.” 

The body of the cab is made out of half-inch reinforced steel, according to Ball.

The Fire Department has this type of hazardous materials training every three years.

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