Home Interviews THMG138 – Interview with Mike Callan, Part I

THMG138 – Interview with Mike Callan, Part I

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In part 1 of a two part series, Bob and Mike discuss the foundations of hazmat in the United States with Mike Callan. They also enjoy a few anecdotal stories about the beginning of Gonzo, a character in his acclaimed book, Street Smart Hazmat.

Thank to our sponsor, CBRNE Convergence World 2018. This show will be held in Orlando, Florida, USA. Click here for registration information and other fantastic information.

Complete Show Notes

1:20 Introduction to Mike Callan

  • One of the founding fathers of hazmat – helped create the laws, standards, regulations, etc. we use today
  • Wrote Street Smart Hazmat, a very digestible book that’s perfect for any hazmat technician
  • Joined the fire department in 1971 and had his first shift in 1972 – no placarding until 1975

4:45 A Brief History of Hazmat

  • The word “hazmat” didn’t even exist back in the day – these incidents were simply referred to as Class B (flammable liquids) or Class D (exotic metals) fires
  • Regulations for fire departments started rolling out in the mid-1980s – this was around 10 years behind industry
  • Everything was empirical back in the day – they learned based on experience because there was nothing else to go on
  • Hazmat had its birth during the “big bang theory” – lots of bangs and other problems led to the creation of hazmat teams
  • Only 2 books on hazmat were available in the beginning, along with booklets (like the Fire Officer’s Guide to Dangerous Chemicals) created by the NFPA

19:00 Bringing the Hazmat Community Together

  • Mike says we’re at the point now where the hazmat community has truly come together – open dialogues about the field, information sharing, conferences, etc.
  • Attended a hazmat conference in Memphis in 1981
  • First fire academies came into existence in 1984
  • Mike and others traveled around the country back in the day (and into other countries) to learn from other departments and figure out how to improve

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