Loudoun Fire-Rescue Opens Metro Car Training Facility

Loudoun County and Metrorail officials were on hand to celebrate the first county Metro car fire-rescue training facility at the Oliver Robert Dubé Fire and Rescue Training Academy in Leesburg on Wednesday morning.

Firefighters demonstrated the steps to put out a track fire, working around a simulation of the 750-volt electrified third rail that powers Metro trains. Loudoun Combined Fire-Rescue System Assistant Chief Keith Johnson said the new training facility, made of 95 feet of simulated rail and two decommissioned 4000-series Metro cars, “will certainly pay dividends for the safety of our fire and rescue personnel, as well as everyone who will ride Metrorail for years to come.”

“I think it reflects very well that Loudoun county stepped to the plate years ahead of the services coming online,” said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. Metro’s Silver Line is expected to start running in Loudoun sometime in 2020.

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) acknowledged that Metro has had “challenges and struggles,” said “we are going to get them all right.”

“But the moment we have everything right, […] the moment that Metro is the best transportation system in the world, will mean nothing if people do not feel like they can be safe on the system.”

Metro has its own police department, but no fire department. Up to now, Loudoun first responders have been travelling to Greenbelt, MD, to train. Loudoun Combined Fire-Rescue System Chief W. Keith Brower Jr. said first responders from across the region will be invited to train at Loudoun’s facility.

Loudoun Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Director Joe Kroboth said Loudoun’s is the first jurisdiction-level facility of its type in the Washington, DC, region. It will be used to train for a variety of scenarios, from fires to mass casualty incidents to active-shooter drills.

Loudoun Firefighters approach the decommissioned 4000-series Metro cars at Loudoun’s new training simulator. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

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6 thoughts on “Loudoun Fire-Rescue Opens Metro Car Training Facility

  • 2017-06-29 at 9:46 am

    More evidence that Lo Co can’t spend tax dollars fast enough. What an unnecessary fixed cost. This proves that spending is out of control. LoCo doesn’t even have metro service yet. Apparently driving to Greenbelt once a year is just too great a burden to bear.

    • 2017-06-29 at 1:39 pm

      To add to the factual information already provided by srh. First off there were already high rise (over 5 story) buildings in LOCO at the time of the ladder truck (you said fleet, it was 1) purchased that was assigned to the Dulles South Station (South Riding). Lansdowne Resort and Leisure World to name a few at 10 stories or above. Ladder trucks play a major role in all structural firefighting operations. In building as low as two stories the big ladder on top can be used to safely and rapidly effect rescue operations from the second story and above where conventional ground ladders will not reach. Again, talk to your local fire station to get the facts about how ladder trucks are used on the fireground to understand their value besides the “10 story building”.

      As for the Metro training prop. First off the process from funding approval, design, buildout, train accusation etc. was about a 5 year process. Yes Metro is about 2 years out, do you want our FF’s to wait until Metro goes on line before they start training??? You would be the first one to complain if an incident occurs and our FF’s weren’t able to handle it or someone, including our FF’s got hurt or killed because they were unprepared to handle the incident. There are over 1000 career and volunteer FF’s in Loudoun that need to be prepared for incidents the first day Metro begins service. Logistically it is not feasible to take that many people to Greenbelt for initial (not a one day session) and ongoing Metro training.

      Spend a day at your local fire station, ask the hard questions, understand their operation you may be surprised at the real facts.

  • 2017-06-29 at 9:49 am

    Reminds me of the fleet of fire trucks LoCo bought 10 years ago that have capability for 10 story buildings. Except the only such structure inLoCo is the Dulles Airport tower….and they have their own fire department. More spending in search of a problem.

  • 2017-06-29 at 12:49 pm

    Loco Wonders:
    Please check your facts. The “fleet of fire trucks LoCo bought 10 years ago that have a capability for 10 story buildings” is completely inaccurate. Most of the ladder trucks in the county have a ladder length of approximately 100 feet (give or take). Averaging 10 feet per floor, yes, that looks like 10 stores. Assuming the ladder truck is parked TOUCHING the building on fire, and the ladder is put STRAIGHT UP at 90 degrees (which they physically cannot do).
    The 100 foot length allows the truck to be set back from the fire itself for safety and access. There are numerous other factors to consider. Please feel free to stop by any fire station in the county (or in any county for that matter) – the firefighters there would be glad to answer any questions you have about day-to-day operations.
    As for the metro car.. Practicing and training “once a year” is not the way professionals do things. Constant repetition, learning, and practice is the only way to remain proficient. Assuming the firefighters _did_ have to cycle to Maryland for training, people would be complaining about the excessive overtime required to pay them (for the paid firefighters) anyway!

  • 2017-06-29 at 2:06 pm

    I’m more interested in Chair Randall’s comment:

    County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) acknowledged that Metro has had “challenges and struggles,” said “we are going to get them all right.”

    “But the moment we have everything right, […] the moment that Metro is the best transportation system in the world, will mean nothing if people do not feel like they can be safe on the system.”

    How much, exactly, is that going to cost Loudoun Homeowners to “get them all right?”

  • 2017-06-30 at 1:15 pm

    LoCo, I share your concern about wasteful spending. Harrison Street never seems to be at a loss on wasting our tax money. I’m with ya’ wholeheartedly.

    However, if we have to blow money on something, fire trucks are never a bad thing to blow it on. They’re a community investment. Like ammo, you can never have enough, when you really need them.

    Srh, has done a fine job explaining the technical aspects and utilities of a 100 foot ladder. On a historical (and geeky) note, Leesburg’s Company 1, and Sterling’s Company 11, possessed 100 foot ladder trucks in the early 70’s. Those were the days when the Volunteer Fire Companies bought the apparatus themselves with community donations. Purcellville’s Company 2, picked up their original 100 ladder truck from Sterling in the early 90’s. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we have a 110 footer somewhere in the county.

    Loudoun has had a long tenured and remarkable fire department infrastructure — The envy of many other jurisdictions. Fire trucks are a good thing. When your house is burning down, there aren’t enough fire trucks in the world. I know that first hand. I’m not dogging you LoCo. Please don’t take it that way– I’m just a strong proponent of our outstanding county fire service.

    Now, if we want to talk about waste, fraud, and abuse, look no further than the Chair Randall’s words in this article. All of us on the hook for the bait and switch commonly known as Metro. Her gung-ho attitude to squander our tax money to fix it doesn’t leave much room for fiscal optimism.

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