Russell C. Coile
and lead them to the front car of the seven car train where
they were rescued. BART has since replaced the fl ammable
seats in all trains, posted placards in each subway car telling
passengers what to do in emergencies just as airlines do
in prefl ight safety briefi ngs, conducted evacuation drills
from the tube, and drafted written agreements with the San
Francisco and Oakland Fire Departments establishing exact
lines of communications and command in emergencies, etc.
Washington Metro offi cials had greatly strengthened their
planning for fi re emergencies after being alerted by the San
Francisco BART fi re. In fact, Washington bought its subway
cars from the same factory in Italy where San Francisco bought
its cars, and had them delivered with the new nonfl ammable
seats and all the other San Francisco safety features.
However, there are numerous other hazards which can
result in disasters for a subway system. These can result
from natural hazards, machinery failures, or human factors.
As far as natural hazards, we still have a long way to go in
understanding and predicting hazards such as earthquakes,
tornadoes, hurricanes and fl oods. We still have diffi culties in
forecasting rain, snow, sleet, hail, freezing, and heat waves
which could lead to disasters.
Machinery failures, reliability, and maintainability
problems plague all elements of American society from the
homemaker with a malfunctioning toaster, to her husband
with his car which won't start in the morning when he needs
to drive to work, to the Washington Metro system. The
subway system needs to prepare for the following types of
failures which could lead to disasters: Computer failures,
electrical power outages, mechanical breakdown of subway
cars, electrical breakdown of subway cars, ventilation system
failures in either cars or tunnels, communications failures,
and derailment of cars.
Human factors may under certain circumstances lead to
disasters. Illness of train drivers, the possibilities of crimes
being committed on trains or in stations such as robbery, rape,
or murder, fi ghts, suicides, drunkenness, vandalism, strikes,