The HazMat Guys

Bob just returned from the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD. In this episode, he talks with Jim Jaracz, who was one of his instructors there. You can apply for Jim’s course here.

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Complete Show Notes

3:00 (Re)introduction to Jim Jaracz

  • From Northwest Indiana just outside Chicago
  • Spent 24 years in the fire service – rode the ambulance, engine, and snorkel
  • Also worked in fire prevention and hazmat compliance – dealing with Tier II forms and local emergency management committees
  • Ensured everything was regulated properly for the safety of responding firefighters and the public
  • Has taught at the National Fire Academy for many years

5:20 Hazmat Response and Hazmat Codes

  • Responders need to think about what buildings are being used for, what the nature of the occupants are, and what that building could do to bite them
  • You can find requirements online and make a drill out of it – schools, daycares, big box stores, office buildings, etc.
  • Code experts are responsible for pre-planning – they’re here to protect firefighters, first responders, and occupants

8:50 Important Codes and Considerations for Emergency Responders

  • ICC (International Code Council) publishes the fire code, building code, and others that correlate with those two
  • NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) also publishes a fire code, building code, and standards that go with ICC and NFPA
  • NFPA typically provides the reasoning behind codes, while the ICC is more of the overarching authority
  • Start by contacting the Fire Prevention Bureau and determining which of these two is enforced in your jurisdiction
  • Jim recommends getting involved with this group to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the fire prevention community – diverse array of individuals are members, so you can learn a lot
  • Building code tells you how the building was built and what it’s used for
  • Fire code is essentially a maintenance code for the building code
  • ICC Chapter 57 contains all of the hazmat codes you need to know – always use your Table of Contents
  • You also need to know that codes all have limits, which are called maximum allowable quantities – just means buildings are only permitted to hold so much of a substance
  • A lot of big cities have their own code systems that need to be followed, along with ICC and NFPA codes
  • Be aware of environmental requirements when responding – will runoff be damaging to vegetation and animals?
  • Think about how the fire would affect the people around the incident – they always need to be in the back of your mind
  • Always evaluate your community and know what you’re dealing with – especially important to form relationships with business owners

25:45 Importance of Code Inspectors

  • Being in compliance with codes helps you minimize loss of both property and loss
  • Business owners think of code inspectors as people who only cause them money, but they play an important and valuable role
  • Everybody wins when we’re educated and both business owners and code inspectors know what’s going on
  • You should be part of your neighborhood and business community – it’s called a “firehouse” for a reason
  • If the department is doing it right, there really shouldn’t be any fines

34:05 Contacting Jim

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