The HazMat Guys

In this episode, Mike and Bob talk to Jim Jaracz about codes and standards and how they apply to the world of hazmat.

Complete Show Notes

1:20 Background on Jim Jaracz

  • Joined the fire service in 1989 and has worked in volunteer, professional, and industrial firefighting
  • Has served in positions from firefighter all the way up to assistant chief
  • MS in occupational safety management and holds several certificates for various codes and standards
  • Also instructs code-related classes at various state entities through the National Fire Academy

2:00 Origin and Development of Hazmat Codes and Standards

  • A lot of these date back to the early 1900s – policy changes are often a result of tragedy or other large-scale issues
  • After World War II, we began to find more ways to apply and enhance hazardous materials – led to the need for new codes and standards

4:20 Important Players in the Field of Codes

  • The International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provide the codes and the standards
  • A code is what is required – i.e. an exit sign or sprinkler system in a building
  • A standard tells you how things required by codes should be designed
  • Many jurisdictions have adopted ICC – stemmed from what was known as the Southern Standard Code, the Uniform Code, and the Boca Code, all of which dated back to the early 1900s
  • These code groups were combined in the 1990s to create the best code resource out there
  • First modern code book that covers every field was published in 2000
  • Since then, codes have continued to grow and change – cycles and code revisions generally occur every 3 years

7:15 Who Enforces These Codes and Standards?

  • Local jurisdiction adapts standards and codes into effect and enforces them
  • There are also state-wide codes – however, some states allow individual jurisdictions to adapt the code for themselves or use older codes

9:00 How Codes and Standards Apply to the Hazmat World

  • Even though these codes are international, they’re still used on a local level – there are also EPA and OSHA requirements that go along with codes
  • Fire Code is broken up into sets of chapters – Chapter 50 is the hazardous materials chapter
  • There are also sections on flammable and combustible liquids, aerosols, oxidizers, etc.
  • NFPA 400 is also enforceable if it’s adapted on a local level – same goes for NFPA 30
  • Identify the product you’re dealing with and always reference the codes and standards sections that relate to it
  • You have to do an environmental scan – identify different factors on-site so you can act effectively

13:05 Conflicts Among Different Codes

  • Inspectors might sometimes be as stringent and strict as possible to cover their bases in case of conflicting codes
  • Some jurisdictions might also call on a third-party consultant or get a code specialist to help them identify what needs to be enforced
  • Keep in mind that codes are created via consensus with input from a variety of people in a variety of jobs

16:00 Reporting and Codes

    • This report has to be submitted to the local fire department that identifies hazardous materials on-site if they exceed maximum allowable quantities for that product
    • States what the hazmat is, where it is, and explains any contingency measures in place to reduce risk
    • All reporting instructions and documents can be found on the EPA’s website
  • Most counties have a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) – TIER II reports also have to go to them
  • The State Emergency Response Committee (SERC) also gets a copy – they help you determine response and mitigation protocols

22:40 Role of the Inspector

  • The inspector is the eyes and ears for that fire department – they’re the ones almost patrolling the jurisdiction to identify risk and look at new construction
  • They have to understand which information will benefit the firefighting crew
  • Some jurisdictions might have a civilian inspector, while others have former ladder crew firefighters
  • The key to the relationship between inspectors and suppression staff is communication – it’s a two-way street
  • They’ll also share SDS and MSDS with the crew so they know what they’re getting themselves into

26:10 The Future of Hazardous Materials and Codes

  • More developments in chemicals, which means more hazards and dangerous situations
  • Don’t be afraid of the code – instead, know your stuff and seek out resources if you don’t know what to do

Have a question? Send an email to or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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