Home Podcasts THMG002 – 12 Tips to Become a Better Hazmat Technician

THMG002 – 12 Tips to Become a Better Hazmat Technician


In this episode, Bob and Mike provide 12 tips for becoming a better hazmat technician. They also discuss ammonia release, refrigeration leaks, and the tarp method.

Complete Show Notes

0:45 Tip # 1. Be a Student on the Job

5:20 Tip # 2. Surround Yourself with People Who Are Better Than You

  • This helps you get better at your job because you’ll want to keep up with them
  • Once you get to their level, find someone else who’s still higher than you

6:45 Tip # 3. Stay Calm and Don’t Panic

  • Be like a duck on the water – don’t panic!
  • Remember that you’re highly trained and didn’t cause the problem
  • Very important to maintain professionalism to keep others calm

8:45 Tip # 4. Be Professional

  • Look the part – this helps others take you seriously
  • Others are counting on you to help them through dangerous situations

10:05 Tip # 5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

  • Seek help for the aspects you’re weak in
  • This can be hard because you’re admitting and accepting your own faults

12:30 Tip # 6. Know Your Tools

  • Take the time to go through the compartments in your rig – helps you know where things are
  • A good time to refresh your memory is when new employees start
  • Your tools are the things that separate you from other companies

15:20 Tip # 7. Keep a Notebook

  • This is an invaluable resource that will help you beyond just training
  • Keep it with you and take notes after drills

19:10 Tip # 8. Have a Firm Understanding of the Basics – and Keep Revisiting Them!

  • Know your definitions – they’re basic, but very important
  • Fundamentals are the questions that answer the “Why?”
  • Every time you learn a fundamental, you become a better technician

21:25 Tip # 9. Anticipate the Worst-Case Scenario

  • Know that things can go horribly wrong, and be prepared to handle them effectively

22:20 Tip # 10. Be Fit for Duty

  • While they’re designed to protect you, most suits also put you at a physical disadvantage
  • Fitness is a combination of flexibility, strength, and cardio-respiratory ability

24:40 Tip # 11. Learning from Others

  • Learn to embrace the mistakes you make – they help you become better and also help others learn
  • Don’t worry about whether people will think you’re stupid, because everyone makes mistakes
  • Ask others about their mistakes in a nice way, rather than just letting things go
  • Always research what other people tell you to avoid spreading misinformation – trust, but verify

27:35 Tip # 12. Find Out How Others Responded

  • Ask lots of questions in order to understand best practices and figure out how to improve
  • Allows you to get other perspectives that you can’t get with your one point of view
  • Ask these questions whether you were there or not – if you weren’t, get the details and imagine you were

30:00 StudyStack

  • Search for “HMC 1” to see all of Bob’s flashcards

31:20 All About Ammonia

  • There was recently an anhydrous ammonia leak in Des Moines, Iowa
  • Ammonia looks like water, but gets very angry
  • Low boiling point – absorbs a lot of heat when it’s boiled (endothermic), which is why it’s used as a refrigerant
  • Lighter than air and very reactive to the weather – cold weather keeps it low
  • Expands 850:1 and loves water more than air
  • Becomes exothermic with water (ammonium hydroxide)
  • Do not add water to ammonia – always add ammonia to water
  • Usually transported in MC331 Bobtails on the back of a rig – can also be dropped into nurse tanks
  • When released, it starts to cool rapidly – as it heats up again, it re-builds pressure
  • Auto-refrigeration is the process by which a chemical gives off so much gas that it keeps the liquid cold
  • Keep anhydrous ammonia from finding live bodies of water – consider using water fog to make it into a liquid
  • The Tarp Method: Cover the release point with a tarp – causes the escaping dense gas cloud to condense into a liquid, which then cools the release point
  • This isn’t a cure-all, as you may see liquid ammonia pooling under and near the tarp – don’t walk through them

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