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THMG Round Table


In our first podcast episode, we interact with Hazmat Nation founder, Phil Ambrose, and Orlando Fire Lieutenant, Bob Coschignano, in a roundtable discussion about Hazmat operational procedures and natural gas.

Guest Bios

Phil Ambrose is currently a Fire Captain/Hazardous Materials Specialist/Paramedic for a busy metropolitan fire department in Southern California and founder of HazSim.com. Phil holds a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Loyola Marymount University and trains first responders across the country using his patented Hazardous Materials Simulation Meter.

Robert Coschignano has been in the fire service for 27 years most of which has been in Special Operations. Mr. Coschignano has served on several hazardous materials related committee’s. Mr. Coschignano is an instructor and evaluator for several local and state competency drills. He is the program manager for the Hazardous Materials Technician program at Valencia College. Mr. Coschignano is also DEA certified in Clandestine Labs. Mr Coschignano is Co-Author of Chemical Card Guide and Risk Based Response Quick Chemical Access Cards published by RedHat publications and has been featured in both Fire Engineering and Firehouse magazines. He also holds an A.S. degree in Fire Science and is currently a Hazardous Materials Lieutenant with the City of Orlando Fire Department.

Complete Show Notes

0:00-4:30: Introductions & Overall Mission

7:40: Phil Ambrose addresses handling gas leaks in Southern California

  • Looking for hydrant locations
  • Four Gas Meters

8:50: Bob Coschignano addresses how they confront gas leaks in Florida

  • Of 7 truck companies, 3 are Hazmat focused
  • If there is a gas odor, closest truck will be called

10:11 Bob Salvesen of Hazmat 1 (FDNY) discusses how squads have developed into technical units in New York City

  • Hazmat 1 doesn’t go out on routine calls and will only interact when there is a specific threat and multiple units already on the scene
  • 10,000 total members of FDNY which allows for specialized units

12:30 Chemical and Physical Properties of Natural Gas

  • Natural Gas is methane with other compounds mixed in
  • Vapor density that is lighter than air (helpful in ventilating)
  • Opening Windows from the top down
  • Pressurized gas (1/2 lb to 2-3lbs on entry)

14:26 Discussing a Six Alarm Event in NYC (March 2015)

  • 200-300 people on the ground
  • Illegal gas conversion in NYC that tapped the main system with a garden hose
  • Attempted to disconnect it and then building filled up with gas (creating an explosion)

16:30 Bob Coschignano discusses confronting gas alarm in Florida

  • Don’t hit gas meter right away (gas leak could be coming from a different place)
  • Attempt to isolate gas leak before turning things off
  • Call local gas company to utilize as a resource when on these calls

17:50 Phil Ambrose discusses confronting gas alarms

  • 9 out of 10 the gas leak complaints are construction related
  • Strapped Jock Shoe Store (Phoenix, AZ) had a broken line in the street. Evacuated and the natural gas floated back into the shoe store and blew it up.
  • Concern is gas collecting in a closed area
  • Gas companies are very responsive in Southern California

20:05 Bob S discusses gas situation with vacant house with snow bird inhabitants

  • Stuck meter through mail slot (smelled gas), however, didn’t detect stock
  • No smell at the other end of the house and high meters on the gas
  • Gas stratified and unmixed itself within the house

21:55 Don’t assume that the meters work (always have two on site)

  • Make sure meters are calibrated daily
  • Always want to have 1 meter that is looking at the other
  • Natural gas explosions increase during the winter (due to increased gas use)

23:25 Make sure that you turn on your meter before arriving on site

25:00 Universities have different acids in labs that can evacuate an entire building

  • Some professors are great resources in understanding chemical compounds

26:39 Hazmat team sometimes can become too dependent on a meter

  • If the meter beeps, I’ll back up
  • A good competant Hazmat guy knows his definitions and can evaluate any environment
  • High, Middle, to low step with the meter
  • What are the air currents in the room?

29:30 Need to factor in the reaction time for the probes (1ft per second)

  • Could be 20 to 30ft into the building before receiving an alert which may be too late
  • Know what you have and how it operates

31:30 Quiz your guys on the gas meters

32:50 Hazmat 1 (FDNY) at a larger residence building goes directly to appliances

  • Has two gas meters for a leak
  • Metal oxide bead within the gas meters points directly to source of the leak
  • Always use generic, LEL meters and sometimes FID

36:00 Recommendations for Drills

  • Drill Meters and basics
  • Study gas stoves at home and use your meter to drill
  • Meter Strategy: What is your basic air monitor strategy? What is your step by step process upon arrival?

38:00 Metering in an acidic environment

  • Okay to burn up meters for learning purposes
  • A lot of people are incorrectly told to not bring meter into acidic environments and are not prepared when confronting a similar situation in the field

41:15 Identification of spills are always overestimated

  • Drill size of spills to be more accurate
  • This helps with efficiency of response

44:23 Operations are always defensive in a Hazmat crew

  • Technicians have more of an offensive ability to go deeper
  • We hope to hit on both levels to connect with a wider audience

45:00 Our show will constantly evolve and please feel free to send in questions/concerns to improve our content

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