Former Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner spent decades fighting fires in his community.

Now, he is helping firefighters across the country through his work on the AskRail mobile app.

The app, which Werner helped develop with the industry in 2014, adds an extra layer of safety to rail’s transport of hazardous materials, such as chlorine. In the unlikely event of an accident, first responders can use it to see what chemicals are on a train and plan the best course of action.

Werner explained how the app works, why it’s vital and how first responders can access it:

What information does AskRail provide? 

The rail industry designed this app in coordination with the International Association of Fire Chiefs specifically to meet first responders’ needs. AskRail gives you instantaneous information about what is on the cars and the hazards of those materials, allowing you to rapidly diagnose the situation. It also uses GIS mapping to identify vulnerable areas like hospitals, schools and rivers, and develop an isolation zone that protects the public.

Why is AskRail a must-have app for first responders?

Back in 1978, a rail emergency involving carbon disulfide in Charlottesville took us nearly 24 hours to contain. A significant share of that time was spent assessing the scene and identifying exactly what was on that train. If the same thing happened today, I would immediately have a full view of the information I needed to make better decisions.

The AskRail app provides first responders with accurate, real-time information about the situation at hand, helping them make fast and safe decisions as they work to protect our communities and save lives. It really is a game-changer.

Who is using the app and how do you get it? 

More than 21,000 first responders in all 50 states and Canada have already downloaded AskRail. After downloading, there is an easy, secure verification process that unlocks the app’s full features.

Explore AskRail