Home Podcasts THMG140 – Tips for Responding to Mixed Loads

THMG140 – Tips for Responding to Mixed Loads


In this episode, we discuss a range of tips to help you respond safely to and operate efficiently at mixed load transportation incidents.

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Complete Show Notes

4:10 What is a Mixed Load?

  • Single vehicle, vessel, or container that holds multiple hazards
  • Associated with placards, but doesn’t necessarily have to be placarded
  • Doesn’t always have to be associated with industry – can happen to anyone who’s carrying two chemicals that don’t play nicely together
  • Chemicals are most likely to interact during some kind of crash

5:10 What is a Single Load?

  • You have more of a particular product, but less chance of a chemical reaction
  • Two single load vehicles have to collide to get any kind of dangerous reaction – this makes a mixed load

6:15 Can Anything Be a Mixed Load?

  • DOT regulations dictate what can and can’t be transported together, but the list of things that don’t play well together is short
  • In small quantities, you can transport almost anything together

7:00 Where Do We See Mixed Loads?

  • We find mixed loads in:
    • Box trucks
    • Tractor trailers
    • Conex boxes
    • Cargo containers
  • Approach any hazard as though it might be a mixed load
  • Keep in mind that people are using storage containers for a variety of purposes – some are transported and some aren’t

9:20 How Do We Recognize a Mixed Load?

  • If we don’t have enough material to meet a DOT threshold, we won’t see a placard
  • If the driver is around, ask to see his shipping papers to confirm it’s a mixed load – keep in mind that some truckers don’t know what they’re hauling
  • Use your meters, temperature guns, and thermal imaging cameras, too – these should always be your primary meters in any chemical reaction situation

15:40 General Mixed Load Tips from Bob & Mike

  • Perform a 360 recon of the vehicle in question with your basic 4- or 5-gas meter in hand
  • Bring your probe almost to the ground – some substances pancake out very low to the ground, and we don’t want to miss them
  • Have your TIC (thermal imaging camera) and temperature gun ready
  • Always bring your eyes on your 360 and look for anything that could possibly be out of the ordinary (bulging, leaking, deformed objects, etc.)
  • For example, if you have an area that’s dry, there may be something hot lurking in the background – especially if it’s rainy or humid out
  • Look for smoke (or the characteristics of the smoke) from chemical reactions, offgassing, vapors, etc. – keep in mind that the color of the smoke can help us figure out what’s going on inside the container
  • Remember that substances shift during transportation – cargo may be leaning against the door of the vehicle, which poses a risk
  • Know that mixed loads can be solids, liquids, or gasses – always be prepared
  • Never rush – are you prepared for what you expect to happen to actually happen?
  • Always be within visual range of your meters – don’t want them to impinge on your vision, but they should be close
  • Make sure you’re always aware of the possibility of fire and realize the fire might not happen right away – two-thirds of all chemicals in the world are flammable
  • If there’s a fuel tank under the trailer, keep in mind that you’re dealing with a refrigerated truck – this throws a whole new set of variables into the equation
  • Know that there’s limited ventilation in many vehicles (like UPS trucks), which can be volatile and damage your skin – monitor using both wet and dry methods
  • Pay attention to what the floor is made of – most are made of wood or plastic, which have their own dangers when it comes to interactions
  • If it’s on fire, letting it burn is a viable option – this shouldn’t be your default, though – always carefully assess the situation to decide on your best course of action

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