Hazmat Studies: 2012 ERG: A Vital Resource For First Responders

T he 2012 edition of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) has been released, featuring new information about gases, placarding and responses to incidents involving boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions...


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When a material in the Yellow or Blue Section is highlighted and the material is not on fire, responders should go directly to the Green Section to obtain isolation and evacuation distances. Information on wind direction should be obtained as soon as possible.

Distances in the Green Section are divided into small spills and large spills. A small spill consists of a single package or container usually 55 gallons or less in capacity. Large spills involve a large package or container or multiple small packages or containers. Spills are further divided into day and night. Day spills are considered any time between sunrise and sunset and night spills anytime between sunset and sunrise. Isolation distances and downwind protection distances are identified for both day and night spills. This is done because the air is more stable at night and the vapor clouds will travel farther than during the day.

Table 2 materials listed in the Green Section are Water Reactive Materials Which Produce Toxic Gases. Materials are also listed by UN four-digit ID number and chemical name. Also listed are the Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) materials produced by contact of the original product with water. A TIH material is a liquid that produces a vapor or a gas and is known to be so hazardous to humans that it poses a hazard to health during transportation or, in the absence of adequate data on human toxicity, is presumed to be toxic to humans based on tests conducted using laboratory animals. A TIH has an LC50 value of not more than 5,000 ppm. The LC50 is the lethal concentration to 50% of the laboratory animals tested. Hazard zones have been assigned to TIH materials in an attempt to classify the severity of the inhalation hazard in terms of LC50.

Table 2 Water Reactive Section listings should be used only when materials are spilled in water or firefighting will cause a water reaction. Types of toxic vapor(s) released in a water reaction with listed water reactive materials are identified here. Chemical names of toxic vapors released from a water reaction must be researched in the Blue and Green Sections to determine what Orange Section page to use. Isolation and evacuation distance should then be determined from the Orange or Green Sections.

Also new to the 2012 ERG is Table 3, titled Initial Action and Protective Action Distances for Different Quantities of Six Common TIH Gases. Those gases are ammonia, chlorine, ethylene oxide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen chloride refrigerated liquid, hydrogen fluoride and sulfur dioxide.

 

The author has developed a training course for the 2012 ERG that is available in a PowerPoint CD-ROM version. In addition to PowerPoint slides, each training CD contains an electronic version of the ERG for PCs, DOT Chart 14, Burke Placard Hazard Chart, Instructor Guide, Student Manual, lists of state ERG coordinators and private-sector sources, a course certificate template and a final exam. Information may be obtained at robert.burke@windstream.net or www.hazardousmaterialspage.com. n