Local Fire Chief Prepared for Rail Disasters

Norfolk Southern Train

Norfolk Southern Train

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HARRISONBURG (WHSV) -- A local fire chief said fires from train derailments like the one in North Dakota are serious safety issues that are always in the back of his mind.

Harrisonburg Fire Chief Larry Shifflett said in his 45 years on the job, he has never seen a major derailment locally, but that doesn't mean the city isn't prepared.

Shifflett shares, "Well, whenever you see a big incident anywhere, it makes you think, what if that were here? What are the things you'd have to think about?"

Shifflett also said while dangerous cargo, like anhydrous ammonia and propane, move through the city on rail cars; any hazardous materials moving through town is clearly marked on the cars.

Though the rail traffic in Harrisonburg is light, Shifflett said keeping people safe from that freight is always in the back of his mind.

"We have to be able to deal with protecting our people as they go about dealing with the emergency as well as protecting the public and keep them safe from whatever the emergency should be," he added.

The railroad running through Harrisonburg, Norfolk Southern, said they provide hazardous materials training for local fire and rescue departments up and down the East Coast.

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