The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has ordered the Washington Metrorail system to take immediate action to reduce the chances of smoke and fire problems after a tunnel fire last week that forced metro officials to close a station for the evening.
The FTA has issued the new safety orders that mandate that the transit agency pinpoint power hot spots and to engage in immediate repairs in those high risk areas. FTA also has ordered Metro to engage in immediate training sessions with employees to boost emergency planning.
This federal directive has come down after there were two separate smoke and fire emergencies near the Federal Center metro stop last week, forcing the closing of the entire station. The FTA noted in its directive that early information showed that the transit authority’s responses to the emergencies were slow and inadequate.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also has sent out its own recommendations to Metro, but this was right before the transit agency outlined its new, massive rehabilitation plan that will shutter large sections of the entire Metro system for a full year. This plan will require major repairs and upgrades that will take weeks and months in some areas.
These most recent incidents are just the tip of the iceberg for Metro. Last year, there was a tunnel fire near the L’Enfant Plaza station that killed one person and left dozens with smoke inhalation injuries. Attorneys representing those Metro passengers recently filed 87 personal injury lawsuits against the transit authority.
We are glad that Metro is finally going to be engaging in long-needed repairs to its systems in the DC area. Injuries involving chemical or smoke inhalation are very serious, and it requires the services of a highly experienced railroad injury attorney to gather the evidence and to work with doctors and other professionals, including a toxicologist, to show that respiratory injuries were a direct result of the metro accident.