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9.7.3 – Hazmat 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 materials fires. Dealing with hazardous materials fires requires special training and protective gear.

When you discover a fire, call 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 firefighters 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. Toxic gases can 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 materials leaking from your vehicle in order to find the nearest phone booth, cell phone signal, truck stop, help or similar reason. Remember: The carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways, and drainage ditches. The costs are enormous, so do not leave a long trail of contamination.

If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:

  • Park it.
  • Secure the area.
  • Stay there.
  • Send someone else for help.

When sending someone for help, give that person:

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

This is a lot for someone to remember. 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 right 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 upwind 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.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #445 (1 of 4)

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If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle you should:

  • Stay there with the truck
  • Park it and secure the area
  • Send someone else for help
  • All these are correct

If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:

  • Park it.
  • Secure the area.
  • Stay there.
  • Send someone else for help.
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Question #442 (2 of 4)

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You're carrying hazardous materials and you see smoke coming from the trailer. You feel the back doors and they're hot. Which of the following should you NOT do?

  • Keep the shipping papers with you to give to emergency personnel as soon as they arrive
  • Open the back doors and use your fire extinguisher to keep the fire under control until the fire department arrives
  • Call for help
  • Warn other people of the danger and keep them away
When you discover a fire, call 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 firefighters 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.
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Question #444 (3 of 4)

Give a brief explanation of the problem:

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If you discover a cargo leak with hazardous materials, what should you do?

  • Identify the hazardous materials leaking by using shipping papers, labels, or package location
  • All these are correct
  • Try to identify the material by touch
  • Try to find the source of the leak by smell
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. Toxic gases can 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.
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Question #443 (4 of 4)

Give a brief explanation of the problem:

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If you discover hazardous materials leaking from your vehicle, do all the following EXCEPT:

  • Warn other people of the danger and keep them away
  • Keep the shipping papers with you to give to emergency personnel as soon as they arrive
  • Call for help
  • Drive to the nearest phone booth, cell phone signal, truck stop, or help
Never continue driving with hazardous materials leaking from your vehicle in order to find the nearest phone booth, cell phone signal, truck stop, help or similar reason. Remember: The carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways, and drainage ditches. The costs are enormous, so do not leave a long trail of contamination.
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