119th Wing receives railcar donation
By Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing
/ Published July 09, 2008
July 9, 2008 -- The N.D. Air Guard, 119th Wing will receive two railcars donated by BNSF Railway Company today.
The former water railcars originally came from Barstow, Calif. and will be transformed to simulate propane, alcohol and anhydrous railcars. The railcars will be used for training to include simulated derailments, hazardous material leaks and other disasters involving emergency management response techniques.
"This transfer has been in the works for over two years and BNSF has been incredible throughout the whole process. Their gracious donation of these railcars will be extremely beneficial for training," said Senior Master Sgt. Michelle Reitan, 119th Wing Emergency Management Flight.
The railcar training site at the 119th Wing will be one of only two sites in the entire Air Guard and already interested participants are knocking on the door.
"We have had over 60 local fire departments who have expressed interest in training with the railcars once the site is established," said Reitan.
The training site will be ready for training as soon as the railcars are secured on the track.
"The railcar training site will be ready almost immediately. In fact, our next hazmat class scheduled in August at the Air Guard will definitely utilize the railcars in their training," said Reitan.
Moving the railcars
Moving the railcars to the Air Guard base became a joint Air Guard and Army National Guard effort. Members of the N.D. Army National Guard, like Lt. Col. James Loegering, became instrumental in the process.
"My initial question was 'how do you get railcars from BNSF to the Air Guard training site?' As an employee with BNSF I have experience with the railroad. I am also a member of the Army National Guard and I knew we had equipment that would help facilitate this move, so I got involved," said Loegering.
BNSF employees Dave Helbling, superintendent and Jeff Wright, Dilworth terminal manager, have also been essential within BNSF to make sure the transfer of the railcars to the Air Guard was successful explained Loegering.
Guard members transported the railcars on a flatbed truck from the Spur Railroad Track via Dakotah Drive, crossing 19th Avenue and entered the General Aviation Gate, west of Vic's Aircraft (1631 19th Ave. N, Fargo). The railcars were then transferred to the Regional Training Site located at the N.D. Air Guard.
Other players involved in the move of the railcars included Excel Energy, N.D. State University, the City of Fargo and the Airport Authority.