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U05a1 Analysis - Case Study Example

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Case Analysis “Almost a Worst-Case Scenario: The Baltimore Tunnel Fire of 2001” (College) “Almost a Worst-Case Scenario: The Baltimore Tunnel Fire of 2001” The Baltimore Tunnel Fire of 2001 was an accident that did not go out of control leading to mass destruction, due primarily to luck, and then to reasonably coordinated activities, though with limited resources and knowledge…
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U05a1 Case Analysis
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Download file to see previous pages As early as in 1985, the possibility of a great disaster in case of an explosion inside the tunnel was pointed out by ‘The Baltimore Sun’. However, nothing was done to ensure safety in case of such a disaster. The city’s 440 page emergency plan contained no provision to meet such an eventuality. The event On 18 July 2001, a freight train of CSX that was carrying various items from paper, plywood, soy oil, and many chemicals derailed inside the tunnel. As a result of derailing, there was fire and smoke. The crew of the train could not contact authorities and hence, they uncoupled the first three locomotives and drove out of the tunnel. Soon, thick smoke started covering the city. The fire department was getting calls from different parts of the city reporting smoke. The waybill from the train crew revealed that the train carried hazardous materials like hydrochloric acid, flurocilicic acid, tripopylene, glacial acetic acid, ethyl hexyl phthalate, and propylene glycol. While some of these were combustible, others could create breathing problems and skin burns. A possibility of ‘boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) could not be ruled out, which could mean total destruction of the city. In addition, the fire officials were not at all familiar with handling those chemicals. As it is rightly said in Penuel, Statler, and Golson (2011, p.89), decisions during a crisis are to be taken in an environment where issues are wrongly defined and data is erroneous. The management of the situation It seems that the fire department proceeded well in accordance with the stipulated procedures. As the city’s emergency plan did not provide any guidelines, it was for the first responder- the fire department- to take the lead. As per the stipulated incident command procedure, the senior officer of the first unit on the scene is responsible to assess the situation, and, depending on the seriousness of the situation, to report upwards. Exactly in the same way, the matter was reported to Chief Heinbuch, and soon he started the command post near the north end of the tunnel. This step too seems well in accordance with the suggested procedures in case of an emergency. Soon, Heinbuch took charge of the situation, and set up the command post near the north end of the tunnel. At this juncture, it is worth remembering that this step too is well in accordance with the stipulation that an incident command post will be established within close proximity to incident response operations. (Penuel et al., 2011, p. 89). The next positive point to note from the case is the cooperation between the fire department and the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE). According to the reports, both the departments worked and trained together, and hence, communication and cooperation were instantaneous. It seems that there was an averagely effective management of the situation. It seems that the team was able to establish link with a number of other groups ranging from MDE, public health, public works department, and the department of transportation, US Coast Guard, the EPA, and the National Transportation Safety Board. Still, there was serious lack of communication among groups that could lead to loss of lives. An example is the effort by DPW crews on 19 July to excavate the water ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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