Versailles discusses train,railroad safety


By Meladi Brewer

VERSAILLES — The Versailles Village Council met Wednesday to discuss railroad safety and training facilities.

Versailles Fire Chief Brian Pearson discussed train and railroad safety with the council. He advised “the hot topic since Feb. 3 is the train derailment in East Palestine.”

“Since that has happened, I have paid very close attention. Not so much of their procedures and how they are handling it, but I’ve been focusing on the amount of people that have been involved and tracking all of it,” Chief Pearson said.

He said the village currently has a two-inch binder in all the trucks with tentative action plans if a derailment were to happen. However, Chief Pearson said the train companies have been eager to get their information out and look at doing community table tops since the derailment.

“They are looking at doing table tops (exercises) and things like that in preparation and preparedness for something like that accident,” Chief Pearson said.

He said if you look at the Village of Versailles’ operation plan, it is a lot of people coming together for something like the incident in eastern Ohio. If the village were to host a table top exercise, they would invite the surrounding communities like Ansonia and Russia to participate because the railroad system runs through all the surrounding areas too. They believe if there ever was a derailment, it would be all the communities coming together to support the others.

“It’ll take about four to five hours because what they do, they come out, look at what you have built in the background, how prepared you are, go through the cycle and sequence and everything, and it all takes quite a bit of time to do,” Chief Pearson said.

Chief Pearson gave the council a list of the materials that have passed through Versailles in the past, and as they saw, a bit of hazardous materials do pass through the town. Since Feb. 3, he has utilized a CSX program that has four different modules and study guides on the situations that could be faced with a derailment.

“It’s step one in their emergency preparedness program. They also offered a community. What they mean is us in this room with police, fire, EMS, administration and things like that, so the material is free,” Chief Pearson said.

He took the liberty of picking up the material for the council to view and become acquainted with, as they think about the future emergency plans. It will also allow them to decide if they would like to participate in a table top exercise.

“I think, if nothing else, as far as village workers, administrators, and things like that, we just need the recognition of a hazard,” Chief Pearson said.

He believes it is important to have the understanding that if the situation ever occurred, it will be beyond them and the Village of Versailles. It will allow them to have the proper uniforms and action plans to avoid harm to themselves and others.

“It’s nothing urgent. It’s just a hot topic that’s kind of everywhere right now,” Chief Pearson said.

Chief Pearson advised the council to think about whether or not they would like to participate in a table top exercise, and he will come back at a future date to discuss the topic again. Continuing to the future, a project that has taken two years already was presented to the public on Thursday.

Chief Pearson advised the council that a Darke County Regional Fire Training Facility has been in the works. The Darke County Association of Fire Chiefs Public Charity, is launching its CHIEFS’ (Communities Helping Improve Education of the Dire Service) campaign for the facility. The association represents 21 fire departments serving all of Darke County and portions of Mercer, Miami, Preble, and Shelby counties.

The proposed Darke County Regional Training Facility will be fabricated from new shipping containers estimated at $750,000 (does not include additional infrastructure costs). It will be a live-fire facility capable of both Class A (ordinary combustibles) and Class B (propane or natural gas) training fires and will provide more than 4,300 square feet of training area.

The site of the facility will be provided by the city of Greenville on about 3.8 acres valued at $228,000 on Kitchen Aid Way, just north of Greenville Transit. This location will provide a central location in respect to the county.

The DCAFC recognized the need for unity. With the restriction of acquiring and burning structures like fire departments used to in order for volunteers to gain hands on experience due to stricter regulations, financial restraints, logistical challenges, uncontrollable environment, and safety issues, the association is looking for a way to keep up with the ever-changing fire characteristics and technologies that require firefighters to receive advanced education and training.

Their training must entail fire suppression, fire prevention, rescue, and emergency medical services.A proper learning environment is critical for delivering this education throughout a firefighter’s career. The facility will be designs to provide a safe but effective environment for fire training and enhances the community’s well-being.

“The association has a revenue stream to maintain and operate the facility, but we don’t have the capital to build it,” Chief Pearson said.

They are looking for investors and state revenue to build the facility. Chief Pearson just wanted to raise awareness to the council of the association’s plans.

Community members are also able to donate if they so wish. All supporters of the Darke County CHIEFS’ Campaign who donate $1,000 or more will be recognized on a sponsorship sign/billboard once the project is complete, but any size donation is welcome.

In addition to the PayPal Giving Fund and GoFundMe platforms, supporters can also make a donation directly to the Darke County Association of Fire Chiefs at any Greenville National Bank location.

Supporters can also write a check payable to DCAFC with CHIEFS’ Campaign on the memo line and mail to Darke County Association of Fire Chiefs at 3157 Byrket Rd., Greenville, OH 45331.

For more information, please visit the Association’s website at

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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