A response call over the weekend felt eerily similar to the East Palestine train disaster for the Beloit Fire Department. 

On Saturday, Norfolk Southern notified the village dispatch of a possible train car fire.

“Every thought going through my head was worst case scenario,” Gage Schreckengost, the Beloit fire chief, said. 

The Beloit Fire Department officials said they were never told what was on the train car with the potential fire by Norfolk Southern so they activated several fire departments in the area and the Mahoning County Hazmat Team. Crews arrived at the scene and didn’t find any fire but they did find a hot wheel bearing - the same issue that investigators believe started the East Palestine train fire. 

The situation was cleared and there was no threat to the public since the crews later found that the car was carrying gravel and not any hazardous materials. 

Even though it was a false alarm it’s something that the Beloit Fire Department wanted to be prepared for. 

“About a day after they did the controlled release in East Palestine I got a hold of chief Schreckengost and I basically said ‘hey I think we need to start preplanning for this,” Greg Hutton, the Beloit Assistant Fire Chief said. 

The “Beloit Railroad Emergency Response Plan” lays out nine different possible situations that can happen with train cars and tells the dispatchers who to call in the village to streamline communication - something that the fire department felt was lacking when responding to the East Palestine derailment. 

“We followed trucks in and the side that we went to was so congested that there were firefighters running four, five, six blocks down the road to get there and leaving their trucks parked,” Chief Schreckengost said about the moments when they first arrived on scene in East Palestine back in February. 

The plan also details how dispatch should call departments surrounding the village so that they don’t all come from the same direction and so that they can utilize their resources alongside Beliot’s.

“It gives departments specific roles whether it's water supply, EMS,” Hutton said.

There are also evacuation details so if the same exact event that happened in East Palestine happened in Beloit, all responders would know what to do to keep all of the village safe. 

“The same train track that runs through East Palestine also runs through Beloit and that train had actually passed through Beloit prior to the accident,” Hutton said. “The Beloit Fire Department likes to have pre plans for any incident you can think of.”