On September 12, 2008, Task Force, Squad and Rescue 87 responded to a train derailment in Chatsworth. There was a head-on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train. The freight train was engulfed in fire and was impinging on the commuter train. The commuter train’s locomotive engine was pushed back through a passenger car, killing and trapping several victims. Heavy equipment was required for extrication. The commuter train containing trapped and dying victims was lying precariously on its side, and was surrounded by more than one thousand gallons of spilled diesel fuel and motor oil.
All members of 87’s were assigned to the Extrication Group, tasked with extricating trapped victims and delivering them to the Medical group for triage, treatment and transportation. Without regard for their own personal safety, they entered the unsecured commuter train and began the arduous task of freeing the trapped victims. Despite the physical demands and mental stress, they worked tirelessly for many hours to save every possible victim.
The members worked in confined spaces in tragic conditions. The split passenger car was lying part-way on its side and needed to be shored. Fire was burning in the engine of the freight train. Many lives were saved during this operation.
The conspicuous actions taken by these members in rendering aid during life-saving situations, under circumstances which posed calculated risk to all members involved is in keeping with the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Due to their actions performed during emergency conditions requiring initiative and/or ability worthy of recognition, the members of Task Force, Squad and Rescue 87 were awarded Letters of Special Commendation.