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A Dual Nations Exclusive

Each week Jack & Mack will answer your questions on any Hazmat and CBRNe matters. On Firehouse Friday they’ll meet to discuss an important topic in their own indomitable style!

Last Firehouse Friday, we asked each to introduce themselves with their early recollections from their distinguished careers!

Meet Jack – a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, and a very large, thick mustache. and his eyes peer out from his lank black greasy hair, like a light from a cinema screen before the drab velvet curtains had been fully withdrawn.

A veteran, Bon Vivant and storyteller, he runs a major east coast city Hazmat team and has over 40 years industry experience. He’s developed a liquid grain storage facility about his person!

He never gets lost, he just finds alternative destinations. He speaks his mind and takes no prisoners!

Meet Mack – Of average size, for a plow horse, but conspicuously large for a man! His chiseled chin looks like granite and matches his heart and looks like it’s defending something. His eyes, cold and dark like black ice on the highway. The only talents he possessed as a child were delusions of adequacy and now the aura of many battles fought creeps around him like a bad smell.

No fashion guru out of camo, when he wears a tie it looks like it’s been put on by the enemy to strangle him.

Over 35 years in weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological warfare and nuclear issues. He trained as a bomb tech and was wearing a mask everyday before it was required under Covid 19.

Interviewer: “Jack, Mack it’s an honor to meet you both. What was your earliest memory in your chosen careers?”

Jack: I’ve always had respect for the older fire guys and their experience. I started my career at 18 in the Dublin City Fire Brigade, back in Ireland! – First week on the job there was a Guinness warehouse on fire and in a blink of an eye it exploded into massive flames”.

Mack: “For me it was…”

Jack: “hold on I haven’t finished the story.. So the alarm went out to all the 14 fire stations for miles around the city. When we arrived on the scene, the Guinness manager rushed over to our station officer, who had turned out …

Mack:” So I was sort of press ganged into CBRNe …

Jack: “Hang on, I’m painting the picture. So the manager said, “All our Guinness secret formulas are in the vault in the centre of the plant. They must be saved. I will give 50,000 Irish ant to the station that brings them out intact.”

Mack: “Can I tell my story or is this going to drag on?”

Jack: “…. anyway those roaring flames held me and the other fire-fighters off. Soon more fire departments from outside Dublin had to be called in as the situation became desperate. As I worked the hoses more engines arrived, the manager shouted out that the offer was now 100,000 punt to the fire station who could bring out the company’s secret files. But still one of us could not get through.

Mack:”Typical … you should have called in the military!”

Jack: “About an hour later, from the distance, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the nearby rural township of Malahide volunteer fire brigade, composed mainly of old men over 65. To everyone’s amazement, that little run-down fire engine roared right past all our newer sleek Scanias that were parked outside the warehouse. Without even slowing down it drove straight into the middle of the inferno.

Mack: “Embarrassed by the old pension brigade!”

Jack:”Outside, I watched with amazement as the old timers led by their chief a 70 yr old named Paddy, jump off right in the middle of the fire and fought it back on all sides. It was a performance and effort never seen before. Within a short time, the old timers had extinguished the fire and had saved the secret Guinness formulas. The grateful beer company manager announced that for such a superhuman feat he was upping the reward to 200,000 Irish punt and walked over to personally thank each of the brave fire fighters.

Mack: “Unbelievable the old boys beat you!”

Jack: “I managed to be part of the action as the national Irish TV station caught the thank you on film and the reporter asked the Malahide Chief, “What are you going to do with all that money?”

“Well,” said Paddy, the 70-year-old fire chief, “the first thing we’re gonna do is fix the damn brakes on that bloody fire truck!”

Mack: …..“You’re kidding me, I sat here for 5 minutes while you tried to tell a stupid joke?”

Jack: Laughing so hard his bushy mustache looks like a bear waking up after hibernation! “Okay soldier boy, take the baton. Let me pull up a sandbag while you tell your story…”

Mack: “Okay, well I remember joining the CBRNe Platoon for the first time. Most guys had no idea of why they were there, we were press ganged volunteers. We were sat in a class being given by a civvy Chemistry PHD, who had been asked to weed out the undesirables. She asked, “Can anyone tell me the Chemical symbol for water?” My mate who wanted out so put his hand up in the air. “Yes Miss, it’s H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O.” The teacher looked at him blankly, “What are you talking about?” she said. He grinned, “It’s H to O!” “H to O, Ha ha, Hah!!!!

Jack: “You idiot!”

Mack: “Straight up, same guy did an aptitude test for the SoF. They asked him “What did old McDonald have? He replies,“a farm Sir.” “Correct” said the instructor. Now spell it.”

”’E-I-E-I-O,” he says!”

Jack: “Don’t give up your day job my friend!”

Mack: By the way – I just have one thing to say to the Fire fighter wearing a camouflage jacket and using crutches, who stole my girlfriend in 1980, you can’t run but you can hide!

Interviewer: Guys we have a question from Dave C, who is a serving officer with a small county department in Texas. Dave ask’s, “Are Hazmat Incidents, CBRNe Incidents?”

Mack: “When chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive devices or agents are used to cause mass disruption and possibly mass casualties, they are referred to as CBRNe incidents. CBRNe incidents are most associated with terrorism, and agents or devices are often referred to as weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. However, this is not entirely accurate. Although CBRNe agents often cause mass destruction—and certainly many have the potential to do so—this is not necessarily the case. Use of CBRNe agents by terrorists may actually cause a limited number of casualties, but have a large terrorizing effect and lead to disruption of society.

Jack: “A CBRNE incident differs from a hazardous material incident in both effect scope and intent. CBRNE incidents are responded to under the assumption that they are deliberate, malicious acts with the intention to kill, sicken, and disrupt society. A hazardous material (hazmat) incident is likely accidental. Evidence preservation and perpetrator apprehension are of greater concern with CBRNE incidents than with hazmat incidents.

Yet, a hazmat incident can also be a disaster incident. Consider this example: an industrial chemical disaster is defined as the release or spill of a toxic chemical that results in an abrupt and serious disruption of the functioning of society. This leads to widespread human, material, or environmental losses that exceed the ability of the affected society to cope using its own resources alone. However, these are rare. Most hazmat incidents are smaller scale”.

Interviewer: “From Sandie F, in California. What would you say are important CBRNe health related Issues to consider.

Mack: There are a number of health-related issues to consider. In addition to injuries one would expect to find, there are other issues to be prepared for, many of which stem more from the fear and disruption to society caused by the incident than from mass casualties. These can include: Identification and treatment, mass decontamination, medical surge, medical countermeasures, mass dispensing (PODs), mass fatalities mass gatherings, population movements, family reunification, psychological issues.

Interviewer: Carlos S, from Arizona asks, What would you prioritize as the strategic objectives of a Hazmat Incident?”

Jack: Prioritize as; 1. Rescue, 2. Leak Control, 3. Spill Control and 4. Fire Control.

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