New equipment could better prepare Rockford firefighters for tra - – Rockford’s News Leader

New equipment could better prepare Rockford firefighters for train incidents


A recent train derailment, not too far from home sparks new training procedures.

A new piece of equipment will help prepare Rockford firefighters for this type of emergency.

"You look at the rail traffic that goes through Northern Illinois, we run a lot of trains a day," said Rockford Fire Division Chief Matt Knott.

It was just last week when a train hauling more than 100 cars of crude oil slid off the tracks, in Jo Daviess County.

A massive fire filled the sky with smoke, calling in dozens of first responders.

"It's highly unlikely that there be an incident, but if there is we need to be prepared for it," adds Knott.

Knott says even though the chances of a train derailing are slim, the Forest City's crews need to put in response practice.

Now they can, thanks to a new piece of equipment.

It's a rail car that you can now find at Rockford's Training Facility, helping firefighters put their skills to the test.

"The fire department doesn't just do all fires and EMS," Knott said.

This prop will be used for simulations like hazardous spills, confined space rescues and even fires.

Knott says Rockford firefighters won't be the only ones to practice on the car.

Other departments throughout Northern Illinois are invited to try it out.

"More of a regional focus to be able to come here to Rockford and do training and teach other departments all throughout the Midwest on proper response to rail car incidents," adds Knott.

With Amtrak's possible future in Rockford, the department has been working closely with that rail company to get one of its passenger rail cars.

This will help firefighter be prepared to take on any train that derails.

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