Confessions of a Hazmat Nerd

I admit it. I am a hazmat nerd. I’m not sure exactly when I realized it. Maybe it was the first time I recited a section of 49CFR from memory during a class. Maybe it was when I decided to keep a copy of the ERG in my car so I could identify the UN numbers on placarded trucks. Regardless of when it happened, I now embrace my hazmat nerdiness… even my Facebook profile lists my occupation as “Hazmat Nerd”. Obviously, this is a great benefit when I’m on the job. I have a knack for remembering obscure requirements and knowing where to find them in the appropriate regulation. I enjoy hunting down the answer to tough questions or unusual situations. I like having customers who think of me as their go-to source for their questions.

One aspect of being a hazmat nerd is that I am always noticing things that relate to my job, even when I’m not at work (hence the ERG in my glove compartment). There was the time that I was doing some geocaching (my obsession…I mean hobby) in Buffalo. I had parked the car and jumped out to go find a cache. On my way, I had to dodge some large puddles due to a recent downpour. As I approached one of the puddles, I noticed something odd. There was a Flammable Liquid placard floating in it! Most people would have just walked past it. Not the hazmat nerd! I took a closer look…mainly to see if it was one of our placards. Then I took a picture, because who wouldn’t want to see a picture of a placard in a puddle? I continued on my way, trying to figure out what circumstances would result in a placard floating in a puddle in the middle of a sidewalk. I still wonder about that…


A placard in a puddle

Another time, I pulled up to a gas station and saw 2 IBC’s of paint sitting alongside the building. Once again, they would have gone unnoticed by most people. I however, took a picture!


Paint ICB's

On one of my many road trips, I made a stop for some fuel for both myself and my car at a truck stop. While walking around to stretch my legs, I came across something I had not seen before…a stop for leaking hazmat vehicles. It made sense that there would be such a thing and I’m wondering why I don’t see them more often in my travels. It’s good to know that drivers do have designated areas where they can go if there is leaking hazmat. Of course I had to take a picture… what kind of hazmat nerd would I be if I didn’t?


HazMat leak sign

I always notice placards on trucks when I’m driving. I even notice empty placard holders on trucks, especially when there is a more than just one or two. Imagine my delight when I was driving behind a truck with eleven placard holders on the back of it! I couldn’t wait until we got to a red light so I could take a picture (not surprising by now, I’m sure). By the way, eleven is my current record for number of placard holders on a single side of a vehicle.


Eleven placard truck

I could go on with my work related, off-the-job hazmat spotting, but I’ll stop here. I will continue to notice these things and have my camera at the ready to document them. And I am proud to say that I am a hazmat nerd!



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