Loudoun County fire officials are building a small, model section of Metro rail tracks to train firefighters to respond to future emergencies on the tracks.
Though Metro’s Silver Line isn’t expected to expand through Loudoun County for several years, the county’s fire department has been installing tracks, fencing and a simulated third rail system on which its 1,400 career and volunteer firefighters can soon begin training.
The tracks are being constructed in Leesburg, on a county-owned space between a small airport and Loudoun Fire Department headquarters.
News4 learned of the project through a review of county bidding records.
The county is obtaining a pair of older, 1000-model Metro rail cars this summer to add to its miniature training space. The model tracks cover approximately 100 feet.
“We’re trying to be proactive," said Loudoun Deputy Fire Chief Jose Salazar. "In the event of an emergency, our providers will be prepared to respond to any kind of situation in a Metro car.”
Local fire departments already have access to fire training courses and simulators in a Metro training facility in Prince George’s County. Montgomery and Fairfax county firefighters also use their own training spaces near local Metro rail stations.
Loudoun fire officials said they needed their own, nearby training apparatus and space. Salazar said he wanted the option of late night, weekend and unscheduled training for his firefighters, all of which he said requires a county-operated training site.
Firefighters and emergency technicians frequently respond to emergency calls or alerts along Metro rail tracks. Salazar said the deadly January smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington DC raised his awareness about the significance of some of those calls.
Salazar said, “The incident in January provided a realization. (Emergencies) can happen. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”
Loudoun county officials said Metro rail operators have helped in the development of their training site. They said the two 1000-series Metro rail cars are being provided to Loudoun at a total cost of $2.