HowardStreet Tunnel Fire
HowardStreet Tunnel Fire
TheBaltimore fire incident, though a tragedy, had very important lessonswe can all learn from, especially on information sharing, criticalinfrastructure security and resilience. The consequences, whichresulted from this incident particularly due to the fire outbreak,flooding, disruptions in traffic, and loss of power, are a gold mineof information for the current, and future generations who might beforced to think critically when confronted with a similar calamity.It shows the significance of sharing information and strategyconsultation among the various institutions involved in combating aspecific disaster, and it also sheds some light on how to mitigaterisks as well as a better response.
Thedelays and wastage of time witnessed during the incident was as aresult of neither sharing information nor making consultations amongthe various institutions involved in the incident. Evidently, sometactical and human errors were made during the incident, which we canall learn from. For instance, concerns were raised about theprivate-public information sharing precisely compartmental dataamong the city, CSX Transportation, the incident command, EmergencyOffice, the federal government, state, and the media during theinitial hours of the incident. Questions surfaced regarding the onehour delay between the derailment and the initial alarm that alertedfirefighters to the disaster and also because the public informationofficer at the scene was also appointed very late into the incident.The City Fire Department conducted a noteworthy response in itstechnicalities to contain and put out the fire. As time elapsed, itbecame crystal to the city officials that the incident neededextended effort to resolve, but some resources, and time required toresolve the crisis was unknown at the moment. Over 1000 hours span,before the Firefighters from both Baltimore City and County totalingto around 150, could bring the situation under control.
Thisincident taught us the importance of disaster preparedness and thebenefit of conducting field exercises. Before the incident, theBaltimore City Official had conducted drills on the city’s tunnels.Nevertheless, the drills were only to prepare them for a case of apassenger train accident, but not in a situation involving fire.Notably, this acquainted the fire personnel with the surroundings ofthe tunnel, and it somehow proved helpful to some degree because thefiremen had familiarized with the environment of the railroad tunnel.
TheBaltimore train derailment put emphasizes on the benefit ofconstantly revising laws and regulations the incident shifted focusto the issue of ferrying hazardous material especially radioactive,and nuclear waste materials, through populated areas. The traincarried some harmful, corrosive, and combustible lubricants andacids. Evidently, this was a show of accountability, andresponsibility. However, it is a lesson to us to be more ‘disasterprevention-oriented’ than to wait until disaster strikes.
Inconclusion, we learn that judgment on this kind of incident, ismostly based on how the concerned people applied critical thinkingand information sharing strategies rather than on specific caseoutcomes a robust and structured approach on such incident and thevalues learned, thereon, is what matters most. As earlier indicated,a unified command center provides effective cooperation among theagencies involved in a measurable scale. This incident has providedthe city with critical information on what can be improved onemergency response planning and execution.