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KCFR receives railcars for training

by Brian Walker
| December 18, 2010 8:00 PM

POST FALLS - Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is playing Santa at Kootenai County Fire and Rescue's headquarters this year.

BNSF is donating two railcars, ties and tracks for KCFR's training grounds under construction along Seltice Way in Post Falls.

Combined with the cost to decontaminate the cars and transport them to the site, the total gift is more than $50,000.

"BNSF's efforts at promoting public safety through this donation correlates with KCFR's training efforts," said Greg Wetzel, KCFR's training officer. "If we are trained as first responders to understand and safely mitigate a railcar hazardous situation, then emergency personnel, BNSF employees and area residents will benefit."

The railcars will arrive on Sunday morning at the KCFR administration site at 5271 E. Seltice Way in Post Falls.

"The investment is well worth every dollar as safety is all of our top priorities," said Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman. "This will help ensure further safety for railroad operations, the public, the environment and emergency response in Kootenai County."

Starting about 7 a.m. on Sunday, the two rail cars will be moved from the existing tracks near Seltice and Cedar to the site.

Two Caterpillar tractors will lift each railcar, weighing between 30 and 36 tons, off the tracks and roll the short distance down westbound Seltice Way to the prepared pad at KCFR's training site where they will be set permanently. It will take about an hour and a half for each car to be transported.

The westbound lanes of Seltice will be closed to traffic for about 30 minutes for each car. Maplewood will serve as an alternate route during the operation.

Other agencies will be able to use the railcars for training. The next closest railcars available for training are in Pueblo, Colo.

Training examples with railcars include mitigating hazardous situations, treating injuries on or around railcars, and responder safety around trains.

"The benefits of a railcar training facility within Kootenai County is immeasurable," said KCFR's Jim Lyon. "This railcar training prop will allow much of the training to occur locally at a much lower cost and at a higher frequency. (BNSF) has gone above and beyond to make this vision turn from dream to reality."

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