The HazMat Guys

THMG066 – Hazmat Codes with Jim Jaracz

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

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