Training The World's First Responders

Drone Testing at SERTC May Help Future Study of North American Wildfires

Brandon Morris, Program Coordinator, Special Projects

In November, SERTC assisted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with their NightFOX (Nighttime Fire Observations eXperiment) program. This program is aimed at monitoring thermal, CO, CO2, aerosol, and particulate emissions at nighttime from wildfires using a specialized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, payload.

“The work, if successful, will significantly advance the integration of UAV-based observations of wildfires into fire-weather modeling and forecasting,” says Dr. Ru-Shan Gao, principal investigator of the chemical sciences division at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory.*

A fixed-wing drone built by Black Swift Technologies a was outfitted with the sensor payload, launched at night from SERTC and flown at an altitude of 2,000 feet while the TTCI fire brigade managed a controlled fire on the north end of TTC’s 52-square mile facility. The successful test set several milestones for both SERTC and NOAA.

*Source: Unmanned Aerial Online

Railroad Partnerships offer Invaluable Experience to SERTC Instructors

In May, Tim Spires, Sr. Instructor for SERTC, had the opportunity to assist Union Pacific Railroad with a hydrogen fluoride anhydrous transfer in the UP railyard in Fontana, CA. SERTC’s relationship with member railroads allows us to stay up to date on new and emerging technologies; however, this was an opportunity for a SERTC instructor to travel to and assist in an active transfer. Spires participated in the transfer, which included a damage assessment to determine whether the tank car can be moved without incident or if product must the transferred into another tank car, which was the case during the SERTC visit.

In April, SERTC Senior Instructor Jason Biggerstaff attended a Pro Board certified instructor I class in St. Paul, MN, hosted by Canadian Pacific Railway. The class, which met the requirements of NFPA 1041: Standard for Fire Service Instructor Professional Qualifications, allowed Biggerstaff to hone his skills in delivering class materials and implementing adult learning theory.

Later in the year, he completed the Illinois Fire Service Institute’s Industrial Fire Brigade Advanced Exterior course. In this class, Biggerstaff trained with members of the rail industry’s hazmat teams and contractors to learn offensive firefighting performed outside of an enclosed structure when the fire is beyond the incipient stage.

Each new training experience gives our instructors new knowledge and skills that better prepare them to help provide a world class training experience to the students that attend SERTC. We are grateful for the relationships we have with member railroads and their support of instructor training.

(Top Photo) Hydrogen fluoride anhydrous transfer to UP rail yard.
(Bottom Photo) SERTC's Jason Biggerstaff at the IFSI Industrial Fire Brigade Advanced Exterior course.

NDPC experiences SERTC's Crude by Rail scenario up close

SERTC Hosts National
Domestic Preparedness
Consortium (NDPC) Conference

Forrest Wieder, General Manager, SERTC/ERTC

In July, SERTC hosted 70 members of the NDPC and state authorizing agencies for three days of communications and demonstrations at the SERTC facility in Pueblo. SERTC is proud to be a member of this elite group of adult educators training our nation’s first responders.

Since its establishment in 1998, the NDPC's impact on national preparedness has been substantial. SERTC joined the list of NDPC training partners in 2009. NDPC is one of three training branches under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Training and Education Division (NTED) and has conducted training in all 50 states and each U.S. territory. This training has benefited more than 1.9 million people since 1998. Today, the consortium's various programs meet the training and educational needs of more than 60,000 emergency responders and state, local, and tribal government employees.

TTCI and SERTC National Exercise

Sarah Fuller, Safety Manager

On September 19, 2018, TTCI and SERTC participated in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) national level exercise known as “PROMINENT HUNT.” The five-day, full-scale exercise included participation of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NTNF) Ground Collections Task Force (GCTF), and demonstrated the Task Force’s ability to support a FBI-led technical nuclear forensics investigation of a simulated terrorist improvised nuclear device attack on the homeland.

The GCTF exercised alert, mobilization, deployment, collections planning, debris collections, and evidentiary control, as well as processing, packaging, and evidence transport to designated analytical laboratories.

TTCI’s SERTC training area was among the key evidentiary sample collection venues during the exercise. The selection of TTC for collection operations was a result of the simulated detonation point in the vicinity of Fountain, CO, and the downwind nuclear debris fall-out prediction plume model. SERTC facilitated the mobilization of TTCI emergency management protocols to enable a real-life exercise with employees on-site and test capability and response with multiple state and federal agencies. 

Transportation Technology Center, Inc.

a wholly owned subsidiary of the

Association of American Railroads

55500 DOT Road

Pueblo, Colorado 81001

Phone: 719.584.0750