BLET announces new appointments to Safety Task Force

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, May 13 — BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce today announced new appointments to the BLET Safety Task Force (STF), the rail industry’s first and oldest labor-based accident investigation team. National Secretary-Treasurer Stephen J. Bruno will continue serving as Chairman of the STF, while Brother Carl W. Fields (Division 682, Hammond, Ind.) remains STF Coordinator.

Chief among the appointments is Brian Fransen of BLET Division 207 (Casper, Wyo.), who will serve as the new Assistant Coordinator of the STF. Brother Fransen is a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) locomotive engineer and has been a BLET member since September 1, 1995. He has also served as a STF Investigator for several years. His appointment is effective immediately. 

“Brother Fransen’s service on the STF to date has been distinguished, and he has consistently shown leadership in the BLET offices he has held,” President Pierce said. “I have every confidence that he will succeed as our new Assistant Coordinator.”

Brother Fransen will replace outgoing STF Assistant Coordinator Scott Palmer. “Brother Scott is less than two years away from retirement, and he wished to step aside in order to maintain the continuity of the STF leadership,” President Pierce said. 

Brother Palmer began serving the STF in 2005. “Let me acknowledge the tremendous contributions Brother Scott Palmer has made as a member of the STF and in a leadership position over the past 14 years,” President Pierce said. “He has contributed much to the welfare of BLET members, and his service on the STF sets an example for all Brothers and Sisters to follow.”

Brother Palmer is a BNSF locomotive engineer and member of Division 842 (Klamath Falls, Ore.). He is also Chairman of the BLET’s Oregon State Legislative Board. Brother Palmer will continue serving the STF as an Investigator until retirement. 

“Our STF team has worked hard to earn the respect of the National Transportation Safety Board, and I thank Brother Palmer for his role in making the STF the standard for rail labor participation in accident investigation,” President Pierce said. 

President Pierce also announced the appointment of seven new STF Primary Investigators, each assigned to fill vacancies in their geographic region. They are as follows: Scott P. Alexander, Division 523 (Chickasha, Okla.), Union Pacific (UP); Jason Y. Clark, Division 41 (Nashville, Tenn.), CSXT; Shawn D. Lawton, Division 382 (Buffalo, N.Y.), CSXT; Jim D. Maynard, Division 28 (Tucson, Ariz.), UP; Kelly T. Nesmith, Division 699 (Council Bluffs, Iowa), UP; John M. Prokop, Division 475 (Smithville, Texas), UP; and David P. Wyatt, Division 216 (Tampa, Fla.), CSXT.

The list of returning STF Investigators includes: Paul Aird, Division 173 (Fond du Lac, Wisc.), Canadian National; Bryan T. Aldridge, Division 78 (Louisville, Ky.), CSXT; Oscar A. Burrola, Division 839 (Richmond, Calif.), BNSF; Randy J. Dumey, Division 595 (Chaffee, Mo.), BNSF; Steven D. Facklam, Division 130 (Kansas City, Kan.), BNSF; Randy Fannon, Division 37 (Norton, Va.), Norfolk Southern (NS); Mike A. Galvani, Division 664 (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), UP; Donald Hill, Division 71 (Philadelphia, Pa.), SEPTA; Erich M. Jeske, Division 256 (Denver, Colo.), BNSF; and D.B. Kenner, Division 195 (Forsyth, Mont.), BNSF.

The BLET became the first labor union in the railroad industry to establish a formal accident investigation team when it created the Safety Task Force in 1989. The STF assists federal agencies in the investigation of rail accidents, helping to determine probable causes and making safety recommendations. The STF is typically granted Party Status by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to assist with accident investigations, depending on the type and severity of the accident. The STF studies accidents from the viewpoint of locomotive engineers and trainmen to help determine how the accident occurred and how to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. 

“I cannot overstate the importance of our Safety Task Force and our investigations into accidents from the human perspective, and more importantly, from the perspective of the operating employees” President Pierce said. “It is a critical part of the National Division’s efforts to look out for the safety of BLET members.”

Monday, May 13, 2019
bentley@ble-t.org