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.
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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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- THMG047 – Interview with Dave DeGregorio, Director of Massachusetts Hazmat
- THMG062 – Interview with NFPA Chairman Greg Noll
- THMG082 – Interview with Dan Baker and Ed Fletcher of NYS OPFC