The RESPONSE Act of 2016 directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee under its National Advisory Council (NAC) to provide recommendations for improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for HAZMAT incidents involving railroads. The RESPONSE Subcommittee included federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as other qualified individuals from non-federal entities.
Materials related to the RESPONSE Subcommittee, including reports, presentations, and NAC meeting minutes, may be found here.
Final Report and Recommendations
In November 2017, the RESPONSE Subcommittee provided the NAC with a report evaluating new and developing technologies and methods, the quality and application of training for emergency responders, and the availability and effectiveness of funding for such training. The report contained prosed recommendations for improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for hazardous materials incidents involving railroads. The NAC considered and voted on six of the proposed recommendations in a session held during its public meeting on November 29, 2017. In its discussion and deliberation of the RESPONSE Subcommittee recommendations, the NAC requested additional information regarding the potential impact of one of the proposed recommendations. Upon receiving the requested information, the NAC reconvened in a public meeting on February 23, 2018, to reconsider the final recommendation.
The final report, Ensuring Rail Preparedness: Improving Responder Training and Resource Allocation for Rail Hazardous Materials Incidents, contains seven recommendations that the NAC approved, based on proposed recommendations submitted by the NAC Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee.
On July 16, 2018, FEMA Deputy Administrator Dr. Daniel Kaniewski responded to a request from Senator Heidi Heitkamp regarding how FEMA will implement recommendations from the FEMA NAC Report, Ensuring Rail Preparedness: Improving Responder Training and Resource Allocation for Rail Hazardous Materials Incidents.
The RESPONSE Subcommittee included federal and other government officials, as well as experts that represent the rail industry; rail labor; those who offer oil for transportation by rail; emergency response providers, emergency response training providers; tribal organizations; vendors, developers, and manufacturers of systems, facilities, equipment, and capabilities for emergency responder services; and other technical experts.
Kathleen M. Fox (Subcommittee Co-Chair)
Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Administrator, Protection and National Preparedness
Chris Howell (Subcommittee Co-Chair)
NAC Member (Vice Chair, Response and Recovery Subcommittee)
Director, Tribal Relations
Howard McMillan (Subcommittee Co-Chair)
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Director, Office of Safety Analysis
Federal Railroad Administration
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
General Director, Hazardous Materials Safety
Robert Wayne (Bobby) Breed
Vice President and General Manager
Specialized Response Solutions, National Response Corporation
Director, Office of Emergency Management, Office of Land and Emergency Management
Environmental Protection Agency
Senior Specialist Emergency Response, Land Transportation
Shell Oil Company
NAC Member (Preparedness and Protection Subcommittee)
Environmental Health and Safety Officer and Emergency Manager
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority
Manager, Freight Rail Industry Engagement, Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement
Transportation Security Administration
Director Emergency Management Homeland Security
Director, Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations
National Transportation Safety Board
Assistant General Chairman for GC 851 and Chairperson for Local 1138
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Transportation Division
Director, Office of Emergency Communications
Department of Homeland Security
Former Executive Director
North Dakota Firefighter’s Association
Chief, Casselton Fire Department
Casselton, North Dakota
Chief, Vancouver Fire Department
Representative, Inter Agency Board (IAB)
Program Manager, South Central (PA) Regional Task Force
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Executive Board
Fire Chief Elwood Fire Protection District
Capt. Anthony Popiel
Deputy Director, Incident Management and Preparedness Policy
United States Coast Guard
Director, Surface Division, Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement
Transportation Security Administration
Hazardous Materials Compliance Officer
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Associate Administrator, Office of Hazardous Materials Safety
Pipeline Hazardous and Materials Safety Administration
Representative, Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response (TRANSCAER)
Global Associate Director of Emergency Services and Security
Dow Chemical Company
President, Transportation Technology Center, Inc.
Association of American Railroads
The RESPONSE Subcommittee met in Washington, DC; Pueblo, Colorado, and/or via teleconference in the spring and summer of 2017 on a bi-weekly or monthly basis as required to review training, resources, best practices, and unmet needs related to emergency responders to railroad hazardous materials incidents. This evaluation and the resulting recommendations for improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for hazardous materials incidents involving railroads considered the following topics:
- Quality and application of rail hazardous materials incidents training for state, local, and tribal emergency responders, including those serving small communities near railroads;
- Availability and effectiveness of federal, state, local, tribal and nongovernmental funding for rail hazardous materials incident training, including those serving small communities near railroads; and
- The strategy for integrating commodity flow studies, mapping, and rail and hazardous materials databases for state, local, and tribal emergency responders and increasing the rate of access to the individual responder in existing or emerging communications technology.
The Subcommittee terminated on March 16, 2018, 90 days after it submitted its report to the NAC.
In general, Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requirements do not apply to Subcommittees that report to a parent committee (in this case, FEMA’s NAC). (See 41 CFR 102–3.35.)