"The initial stage of an incident involving crude oil should include an analysis of appropriate site-specific response procedures and potential effects that an incident would have on nearby life, property, critical systems and the environment. Traditional firefighting strategies and tactics may not be effective in these situations. These incidents also need to be approached and managed as a hazardous materials problem to ensure that proper and appropriate technical assistance and the support of outside resources are notified and requested as soon as possible. The following factors should be considered as part of developing the initial response strategy to determine whether the incident should be handled offensively, defensively or by nonintervention: (1) Are there any life safety exposures in danger that responders must address right now, and can responders safely evacuate or protect in place? Number of people to be protected, ability of public to move, available time, resources needed, adequate facilities to shelter evacuees; (2) Can responders safely approach the incident? Location of the incident, access and terrain, number of tank car(s), extent of damage, size of spill, leak or fire involved; (3) Do responders fully understand the nature and scope of the problem? A hazard assessment and risk evaluation must be completed, and the results must be shared with technical specialists from the railroad and/or shipper; (4) If a fire is involved, do responders have immediate access to sufficient foam and water supplies that are required for effective fire control/suppression operations?"
Coffee Break Training - Hazardous Materials Series No. HM-2014-7
U.S. Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/