News & Reviews News Wire CN expands firefighting fleet with addition of two improved train sets

CN expands firefighting fleet with addition of two improved train sets

By Bill Stephens | May 30, 2024

Trident and Neptune join Poseidon in the railway’s firefighting arsenal

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Canadian National’s Neptune firefighting train features improvements over the proof-of-concept train, Poseidon. CN

MONTREAL — Canadian National has beefed up its ability to battle wildfires with the addition of two new firefighting trains.

The Trident and Neptune trains, unveiled yesterday, will join CN’s original firefighting train, Poseidon, in combating fires along the railway’s right of way, particularly in isolated areas.

“Our priority is to maintain the integrity of the supply chain so that we can continue to serve our customers and power the economy. By deploying these new firefighting railcars, we’re not only reinforcing our commitment to securing the supply chain, but also helping to support the safety and security of our neighbors in communities along our network,” Matthew McClaren, assistant vice president of safety, said in a statement.

Poseidon was CN’s proof of concept and first firefighting car. It’s built on a 66-foot bulkhead flatcar equipped with two 3,500-gallon tanks, three water pumps, fire hoses, and a diesel-electric generator. Two tank railcars, each with a capacity of nearly 21,000 gallons, are attached to either side of the flatcar. The railcar can spray various forms of fire prevention and suppression substances, including water, foam, and fire retardant.

CN has improved on the design with the new equipment. Key improvements on Trident and Neptune include additional 360-degree cameras placed at both ends for real-time visibility, a separate 20-foot container to hold pumps, hoses, and generators, as well as a 40-foot container with a built-in staircase and crow’s nest. The crow’s nest has two additional water canons and provides greater visibility for crews.

CN says it works closely with federal, provincial, and municipal wildfire management authorities, along with Indigenous communities, to deploy the firefighting equipment where it can be safely and effectively used in response to wildfires.

The 2023 wildfire season was the most destructive ever recorded in Canada, according to Natural Resources Canada. By Sept. 5, more than 6,132 fires had burned a 16.5 million hectares of land, or 40.7 million acres — an area larger than Greece and more than double the prior record from 1989.

Normally, an average of 2.5 million hectares of land (6.17 million acres) are burned in Canada every year. And unlike previous years, the fires in 2023 were widespread, from the West Coast to the Atlantic provinces, and the North. By mid-July, there were 29 mega-fires, each exceeding 100,000 hectares, or more than 247,000 acres.

Poseidon was CN’s original firefighting train. CN
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