TruckingTruth logo

9.7 Hazardous Materials — Emergencies

The Department of Transportation has an Emergency Response Guidebook for firefighters, police and industry workers on how to protect themselves and the public from hazardous materials. The guide is indexed by proper shipping name and hazardous materials identification number. Emergency personnel look for these things on the shipping paper. That is why it is vital that the proper shipping name, ID number, label and placards are correct.

Accidents/Incidents

As a professional driver, your job at the scene of an accident is to:

  • Keep people away from the scene.
  • Limit the spread of material, only if you can safely do so.
  • Communicate the danger of the hazardous materials to emergency response personnel.
  • Provide emergency responders with the shipping papers and emergency response information.

Follow this checklist:

  • Check to see that your driving partner is OK.
  • Keep shipping papers and ERI with you.
  • Keep people far away and upwind.
  • Warn others of the danger.
  • Send for help.
  • Follow your employerʼs instructions.

Fires

You might have to control minor truck fires on the road. However, unless you have the training and equipment to do so safely, do not fight hazardous material fires. Dealing with hazardous material fires requires special training and protective gear.

When you discover a fire, send someone for help. You may use the fire extinguisher to keep minor truck fires from spreading to cargo before firefighters arrive. Feel trailer doors to see if they are hot before opening them. If hot, you may have a cargo fire and should not open the doors. Opening doors lets air in and may make the fire flare up. Without air, many fires only smolder until firemen arrive, doing less damage. If your cargo is already on fire, it is not safe to fight the fire. Keep the shipping papers with you to give to emergency personnel as soon as they arrive. Warn other people of the danger and keep them away.

If you discover a cargo leak, identify the hazardous materials leaking by using shipping papers, labels or package location. Do not touch any leaking material - many people injure themselves by touching hazardous materials. Do not try to identify the material or find the source of a leak by smell. Many toxic gases destroy your sense of smell and can injure or kill you even if they do not smell. Never eat, drink or smoke around a leak or spill.

If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle, do not move it any more than safety requires. You may move off the road and away from places where people gather, if doing so serves safety. Only move your vehicle if you can do so without danger to yourself or others.

Never continue driving with hazardous material leaking from your vehicle to find a phone booth, truck stop, help or other reason. Remember that the carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways and drainage ditches. The costs are enormous, so do not leave a lengthy trail of contamination. If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:

  • Park it.
  • Secure the area.
  • Stay there.

When sending someone for help, give that person:

  • A description of the emergency.
  • Your exact location and direction of travel.
  • Your name, the carrierʼs name, and the name of the community or city where your terminal is located.
  • The shipping name, hazard class and ID number of the hazardous materials, if you know them.

This is a lot to remember, so it is a good idea to write it all down for the person you send for help. The emergency response team must know these things to find you and to handle the emergency. They may have to travel miles to get to you. This information will help them to bring the appropriate equipment the first time, without having to go back for it.

Never move your vehicle if doing so will cause contamination or damage the vehicle. Keep downwind and away from roadside rests, truck stops, cafes and businesses. Never try to repack leaking containers. Unless you have the training and equipment to repair leaks safely, do not try it. Call your dispatcher or supervisor for instructions and, if needed, emergency personnel.

The list below should be memorized.
Remember to keep people upwind. This tends to come up frequently on the written exam.
Make sure you memorize the list below.
You guessed it! This list should be memorized as well.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Review Questions - Click On The Picture To Begin...

If you experience a truck fire while transporting hazardous materials, you should:
  • Before exiting the vehicle, if possible, take the shipping papers with you
  • All of these answers are correct
  • Warn others of the danger and keep them away
  • Keep the trailer doors closed

Quote From The CDL Manual:

You might have to control minor truck fires on the road. However, unless you have the training and equipment to do so safely, do not fight hazardous material fires. Dealing with hazardous material fires requires special training and protective gear.

When you discover a fire, send someone for help. You may use the fire extinguisher to keep minor truck fires from spreading to cargo before firefighters arrive. Feel trailer doors to see if they are hot before opening them. If hot, you may have a cargo fire and should not open the doors. Opening doors lets air in and may make the fire flare up. Without air, many fires only smolder until firemen arrive, doing less damage. If your cargo is already on fire, it is not safe to fight the fire. Keep the shipping papers with you to give to emergency personnel as soon as they arrive. Warn other people of the danger and keep them away.

Next
Which of the following is incorrect about your role at an accident scene involving hazardous materials?
  • Provide emergency responders with the shipping papers and emergency response information
  • Communicate the danger of the hazardous materials to emergency response personnel
  • All of these are proper things to do after an accident involving hazardous materials
  • Ask as many people standing nearby to come help control the spread of material

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Accidents/Incidents - As a professional driver, your job at the scene of an accident is to:

  • Keep people away from the scene.
  • Limit the spread of material, only if you can safely do so.
  • Communicate the danger of the hazardous materials to emergency response personnel.
  • Provide emergency responders with the shipping papers and emergency response information.

Follow this checklist:

  • Check to see that your driving partner is OK.
  • Keep shipping papers and ERI with you.
  • Keep people far away and upwind.
  • Warn others of the danger.
  • Send for help.
  • Follow your employer's instructions.
Prev
Next
At a rest area you discover your hazardous materials shipments slowly leaking from the vehicle. There is no phone around. What should you do?
  • Secure the area, warn others of the danger, and send someone for help while you stay there
  • Drive the vehicle away from the public area, then walk to find a phone and call for help
  • Make every attempt to contain the spill and locate the source of the leak
  • Find as many bystanders as possible to come assist you with cleaning the spill before it causes ecological damage

Quote From The CDL Manual:

If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle, do not move it any more than safety requires. You may move off the road and away from places where people gather, if doing so serves safety. Only move your vehicle if you can do so without danger to yourself or others.

Never continue driving with hazardous material leaking from your vehicle to find a phone booth, truck stop, help or other reason. Remember that the carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways and drainage ditches. The costs are enormous, so do not leave a lengthy trail of contamination. If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:

  • Park it.
  • Secure the area.
  • Stay there.
Prev
Next
Before calling for help, what are the three basic steps drivers should take if they discover a hazardous material leaking from their vehicle?
  • Park it, secure the area, and stay there
  • Drive to a remote location, contain the spill, locate the leak
  • Park over a drain, stop the leak, clean the spill
  • Drive to the nearest truck stop, pull into a service bay, find the source of the leak

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Never continue driving with hazardous material leaking from your vehicle to find a phone booth, truck stop, help or other reason. Remember that the carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways and drainage ditches. The costs are enormous, so do not leave a lengthy trail of contamination. If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:

  • Park it.
  • Secure the area.
  • Stay there.
Prev
Next
If there is a hazardous material spill, you should:
  • Not say anything to anyone as it could cause unnecessary panic
  • Ask as many people as you can to come help contain the spill
  • Keep people far away and downwind
  • Keep people far away and upwind

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Accidents/Incidents - As a professional driver, your job at the scene of an accident is to:

  • Keep people away from the scene.
  • Limit the spread of material, only if you can safely do so.
  • Communicate the danger of the hazardous materials to emergency response personnel.
  • Provide emergency responders with the shipping papers and emergency response information.

Follow this checklist:

  • Check to see that your driving partner is OK.
  • Keep shipping papers and ERI with you.
  • Keep people far away and upwind.
  • Warn others of the danger.
  • Send for help.
  • Follow your employer's instructions.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

If safely possible, you should always try to contain a hazardous material spill, but the main concern is human safety. Keep people away from the spill and warn anybody nearby of the danger. Don't try to contain the spill unless you can do it safely. Otherwise, contact and wait for emergency crews to arrive.

Prev
Finish
Please select an option
[2,4,1,1,4]
5

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More