- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2001

Smoke billowed yesterday from the top of a flaming Metro subway car on a bridge near the Eisenhower Avenue station in Alexandria, as squads of Alexandria and Arlington County firefighters waited patiently to climb ladders to care for the injured and attack the blaze.
But the scene along the tracks leading to the Yellow line station was just a drill for Metro and fire officials, who hope they never have to put the skills they practiced yesterday into action.
"If you get complacent, thats when your operations go bad," Alexandria Fire Department Capt. James Bayliss said before briefing his crew of 20 firefighters on their roles in Metros annual disaster drill.
Yesterdays scenario had a four-car train moving down the wrong track and slamming into a "prime mover" — a piece of rail equipment that repairs and moves trains along the tracks.
The practice incident included about a dozen "injuries."
Ronald A. Keale, Metros director of passenger, vehicle and fire life safety, said all jurisdictions with subway service stage safety exercises throughout the year.
But this once-a-year drill, he said, takes place during Metros regular operating hours and involves more than one jurisdiction.
Arlington County Fire Department Capt. Jim Daugherty said the large-scale drills are useful because crews rarely have a chance to practice responding to major incidents.
"You dont want to use [a real emergency] as a learning environment," Capt. Daugherty said.
Capt. Daugherty and other fire officials said drills provide fire and emergency services crews with a sense of reality they would not get from doing classroom exercises and watching videos.
"If something like this happens, its going to happen in the day. Its going to be during rush hour," Capt. Daugherty said, adding that Sunday mornings are slower for Metro.
Last year, emergency crews from the District and Prince Georges and Montgomery counties took part in a disaster drill at the Capitol Heights station.
Yesterdays scenario unfolded at a pace slower than real time so that fire and emergency crews could pay attention to each move, Metro and fire officials said.
For fire and emergency crews, a fire or any sort of disaster involving a Metro subway car is a unique situation, Capt. Daugherty said.
"Its sort of like a high-rise, upside down. But high rises dont have electrical circuits running down them," he said.

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