GREENSBURG — A stalled train blocked street crossings at Monfort, South Michigan, Franklin and Broadway on Monday night for about two hours near the downtown area.
Greensburg Fire Department (GFD) Chief Scott Chasteen told the Daily News that the department had a fire engine in place on the south side of the tracks within minutes of receiving notice of the stalled train.
“We communicated via radio as to which crossings were open and which weren’t,” Chasteen said, allowing the GFD to move a truck east and west to an open crossing.
The train stopped at 7 or 7:30 p.m., according to Chasteen, and didn’t get back underway until 9:30 or so. The train’s issues were severe enough to require the railway company to bring in an outside maintenance crew.
Chasteen was confident the residents on the south side of the tracks were never in any peril from the blockage. “We put an engine with a three-man crew at Five-Points Tire at Poplar and Michigan,” the chief said.
Chasteen acknowledged that all the city’s nine street crossings could potentially become blocked by a sufficiently long train, but again expressed confidence such an occurrence wouldn’t present an insurmountable obstacle. Such trains have, in fact, run through Greensburg and will undoubtedly come through again in the future.
“If they [the railway company] foresee a train coming that large, they notify us and we position a vehicle well in advance,” the chief explained. “This train [on Monday night] wasn’t that big.”
The chief also pointed out that there are several other township and county fire departments that have direct access to the south side of the Greensburg train tracks. In the event the GFD needed help during a track blockage event, the department wouldn’t hesitate to call for help from one of those departments.
Nonetheless, Chasteen conceded, that the GFD is “currently researching and trying to find funding for an additional station,” which would be placed on the south side of the tracks.
The chief is certain the department wouldn’t need additional fire engines or equipment to furnish another station. “I’m not certain we’d even need to hire additional personnel,” the chief added. “We might have enough to split people between the two buildings.”
The new fire engine the department will take delivery of in late November would help with keeping the GFD sufficiently equipped in the event they open a second building.
Still, opening a new fire house won’t be cheap. In addition to the costs of acquiring and opening a new facility, the chief reminded, “You have to consider that all the expense we currently pay to maintain our current building would double – light, gas, heat, etcetera.”
Regardless, the current, improving economic climate makes a second building a realistic proposition. In the meantime, whether the GFD opens a new fire house or not, the chief assured residents on the south side of the train tracks that the department remains ever diligent. “We are actively working and dedicated to making sure that you are safe,” he said.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011