Home Interviews THMG100 – Interview with Bob and Mike

THMG100 – Interview with Bob and Mike


Wow – 100 episodes! In this episode, we talk about our hobbies, our hopes for the hazmat community, and much more.

Complete Show Notes

2:15 Introduction to Victoria Gigante

  • Silent hazmat guy who does all the behind-the-scenes stuff for the show and the website

3:00 How Bob and Mike Got Into the Hazmat World

  • Bob:
    • Went to school for chemistry
    • Got a call from New York City EMS around 1995 – went through the EMS program and was promoted to the fire department
    • Went into special operations after 9/11
    • Joined Hazmat 1 around 4 years ago after “coming out of the closet” about his chemistry background
  • Mike:
    • Went to school for biochemistry
    • Joined the Fire Academy after graduation
    • Part of an engine company in Brooklyn for 3 years
    • Offered the chance to try out hazmat and has been in Hazmat 1 ever since
    • Immediately an asset to Hazmat 1 due to his background in the sciences

7:05 Bob and Mike’s Working Relationship

  • They work together almost every tour
  • Hazmat 1 uses a 25-group chart – Mike is in 18 and Bob is in 17, which means they’re right next to each other and work together 99% of the time

8:00 Anatomy of a Typical Hazmat Tour

  • Tours start at 9 AM
  • Preparation starts at 8:30 to make sure everything is ready to go – they also clean up the firehouse and go into drill (they try to do at least one drill per tour)
  • Tool check – pull everything out and make sure it’s ready to use, which usually leads into another drill
  • There’s also plenty of downtime, which they usually spend studying and keeping on top of new laws and developments in the hazmat universe

10:55 Advantages of Being Part of a Dedicated Hazmat Unit

  • Most departments don’t have the funding or manpower to staff a 24/7 hazmat company – Bob and Mike’s company is the only one in New York City
  • New York City doesn’t have a mutual aid agreement with companies outside the area, which puts a lot of responsibility on Hazmat 1
  • This is particularly true due to the population density of New York City – Hazmat 1 has to be at the top of their game at all times

13:30 Backgrounds of the Other Members of Their Company

  • Bob and Mike are the only guys in the company that have a chemistry background
  • However, there are a lot of other really smart and qualified guys in their unit that handle a lot of specialized tasks – chemistry is only a small part of the equation

15:55 Work-Life Balance

  • Bob:
    • Lives in Nassau County and commutes 21 miles to the firehouse
    • However, it takes him an hour to an hour and a half thanks to New York City traffic
    • He runs to the firehouse sometimes – he loves running long distances (50-100 miles)
  • Mike:
    • Commutes 70 miles to the firehouse
    • Fills his commute with podcast, books on tape, and singing
    • Mike releases stress with empty carbohydrates

19:00 Catalyst for Starting the Podcast

  • Bob realized there were no podcasts about hazmat and asked Mike if he wanted to start one
  • Started off doing videos, but quickly transitioned into the audio format of a podcast
  • They’re just shy of two years of recording and have gained some recognition in the community
  • A lot of the guys they worked with didn’t know what podcasts were, so it was a new concept

22:10 Initial Vision for the Podcast

  • Initial intent was to gain national recognition so they could go out and present on the national stage
  • There was a really robust community in the fire services, but there wasn’t much of that in hazmat
  • Goal was to create a community for hazmat – Bob and Mike saw themselves and the podcast as a vehicle for doing that
  • When guys started giving them feedback and telling stories about runs they’d been on, they knew they were on the right track

26:15 Target Audience of the Podcast

  • Anybody who has anything to do with hazardous materials in any shape or form
  • Goal is to break everything down to a fifth-grade level since there’s so much high-level education going on at conferences
  • CFR-D and hazmat training are the two lowest-level trainings you can complete through FDNY – Bob and Mike make these fun and informative

29:30 Most Surprising Thing That’s Happened Since Starting the Podcast

  • How openly it’s been received as a microphone for the community – this is exactly what they wanted it to be
  • Mentioned in an international magazine
  • Recognized at shows
  • Someone was promoted because he crammed by listening to the podcast

30:45 Things Bob and Mike Learned While Doing the Podcast

  • They do a significant amount of research for every episode, so each installment is a learning experience
  • They’ve made mistakes, but they always correct their errors and incorporate the correct knowledge into future episodes

35:50 Advice for People Who Want to Get Involved in Hazmat

  • If you’re in the fire or police department, become a fireman or a cop first – get experience under your belt before coming over to hazmat
  • You need to be able to relate to hazmat guys before you can come over to the hazmat unit – educate yourself so the transition is a smooth one
  • Go to conferences and check out all of the free resources available in books and on the Internet
  • It will take you 5 years to even understand what hazmat means and get comfortable once you’re on the team

38:20 What’s Next for The Haz Mat Guys?

  • 100 more episodes – or at least make it to Episode 101
  • They still have a long list of topics to address in the future
  • Releasing a book with a bunch of drills and also getting into making informative videos

40:15 Fun Facts About Bob and Mike

  • Mike (according to Bob):
    • Mike thrives on uncomfortable situations – if he can make things worse, he’ll absolutely do it
    • He makes grown men cry
  • Bob (according to Mike):
    • Mike has never seen someone learn and pick up things as quickly as Bob

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

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