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Warner Robins firefighters train for accidents involving hazardous cargo

It's because of potential hazardous situations like Tuesday's train derailment that Warner Robins firefighters train annually in hazmat awareness and operations.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Multiple agencies responded to Tuesday's train derailment in Houston County, including the Warner Robins Fire Department.

22 cars derailed Tuesday evening, directly across from Robins Air Force Base.

It's because of potential hazardous situations like Tuesday's that every year, Warner Robins firefighters train in hazmat awareness and operations.

Those are part of the bare minimum training certifications to become a firefighter, but some firefighters even take extra training, called hazmat technician.

At 5:18 p.m. Tuesday, the Houston County 911 Center dispatched the Warner Robins Fire Department to the train derailment. They arrived two minutes later.

That's according to Warner Robins Fire Chief Ross Moulton.

"Every incident we go on, we establish a commander and we make assignments. We work off the Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation every single day," Moulton said.

In situations like Tuesday's, agencies work together in a unified command to first, get on scene; and second, identify possible hazardous materials.

"Lots of different people working together for a good outcome," Moulton said.

Moulton says, they wore protective equipment, used drones, a helicopter, and a couple of apps, like AskRail to determine what the train was carrying, without getting too close.

"If we put in any number of any car of that train. We can get the consists of the train. We know where every car is at on that particular train. We know what's in that car, what level it is, filled to empty or half full," Moulton said.

Norfolk Southern Railroad says one of the products being hauled on the train was molten sulphur.

Chief Moulton said, there were no leaks or fire, so it wasn't hazardous.

"Several people saw our hazmat unit, an 18-wheel, white tailor out on 247 yesterday. We responded with it just a a precaution until we were able to determine, it wasn't needed," Stoner said.

Credit: Molly Jett

Fire Chief and Houston County Emergency Management Director, Chris Stoner said, there were no injuries.

"It worked really well. We've got a great relationship with all of our city agencies, as well as our county agencies. It certainly could've been a lot worse than it was, but that is why we plan for and train for in case it does happen. We are just happy and blessed that it didn't happen yesterday," Stoner said.

"We were fortunate. The city was very fortunate. That could've been a more significant product on those trains. It was really a blessing that it wasn't more than it was," Moulton said, and in every fire truck, firefighters can find an Emergency Response Guide.

It's a handbook for first responders that tells them how to determine a small or big leak, or if an evacuation is necessary.

In this case, Moulton says all agencies determined there was no hazardous material, so they did not have to initiate a code red scenario or send text messages to the public telling them to evacuate.

Molten Sulphur is used in fertilizer, rubber, solvents, etc.

That's according to Norfolk Southern Railroads Media Relations Manager Connor Spielmaker.

The train had a total of 140 cars. It was headed from Macon to Valdosta.

The cause of the wreck is still unknown.

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