LOS LUNAS — Personnel from the Los Lunas and Valencia County fire departments recently took part in a training with BNSF Railway on railroad emergency response and hazardous material awareness.

“This is important because in Los Lunas and Valencia County, we have a rail that runs through our area and it’s important we keep up with training alongside BNSF,” Los Lunas Fire Chief John Gabaldon said. “This way we know all the resources and how to contact them in the event of an emergency.”

The Central New Mexico Rail Park in Los Lunas spans about 1,400 acres. According to BNSF’s website, the size and topography of the site can accommodate any size of rail operations, including unit trains up to 10,000 feet.

During the two-hour BNSF training, participants learned about safety considerations while working around railroads, types of hazardous materials transported, damage assessment, emergency response considerations and more.

Local firefighters learn about railroad emergency response and hazardous material awareness at a training led by BNSF on April 12.

Gabaldon said one of his biggest takeaways from the training is the awareness of the amount of resources available locally.

“It’s good knowing that we now have a hazmat specialist in the metro area and also the amount of resources BNSF has that are available to us not only for rail emergencies, but also just for emergencies in general within the community,” he said.

In regard to what the public can do, Gabaldon urges communication and being alert to your surroundings.

“As with anything else that gets transported on road or rail, if you see something, say something,” he said. “Because the earlier we know there is a problem, the sooner we can help. If it goes untold, that problem could become a lot larger, so it’s important we communicate.”

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in 2022 there were 2,184 vehicle-train collisions, 274 fatalities and 774 injuries at highway-rail grade crossings in the United States.

The Rio Metro’s website says people need to be careful around trains because they cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way, they can come at any time and trains, especially the more modern ones, can be very quiet and may not give any warning. Also, trains may extend three or more feet beyond the track which can lead to injury or death even if you are not directly on the track.

Safety measures:

  • Cross railroad tracks only at designated areas
  • Look both ways before crossing
  • Trains may not always sound their horns in quiet zones
  • Don’t walk on the tracks
  • Never play near or around railroad tracks
  • Learn and follow railroad warning signs
  • Don’t go around or under when crossing arms are down

(Source: riometro.org)

What’s your Reaction?
+1
3
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
Felina Martinez News-Bulletin Writer

Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.