Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hazmat Drum Overpacking

Drums (Non-bulk Packaging)

Non-bulk packaging will hold solid,liquid, or gaseous materials. DOT provides the following definitions:

  • Liquid - capacity of 119 gallons or less
  • Solid - net mass of 882 pounds or less for solids
  • Compressed Gas - water capacity of 1001 pounds or less

 Drum Design & Construction
  • A cylindrical package constructed of metal, plastic, fiberboard, or other suitable materials.
  • Typical capacity is 55 gallons, although smaller ( pails) and larger drums up to 110 gallons can be found.
  • Drums are open-head ( i.e., drum lid comes off) or closed - head ( i.e., drum lid is fixed and cannot be removed).
  • Closed head drums tend to be used for the more hazardous materials.
Drum Contents/ Hazard Class

  • Liquids,solids and mixtures, including flammable & combustible liquids, flammable solids,oxidizers, organic peroxides, poisons, corrosives, and radioactive materials.
  • As a general rule liquids are found in closed head drums, while solids are typically found in open head drums.
  • Steel Drums - commonly used for flammable & combustible liquids, poisons, mild corrosives, and liquids used in food production.
  • Stainless Steel Drums - commonly used for more hazardous & reactive liquids, such as nitric acid or oleum ( super concentrated sulfuric acid @ 120 - 160 % concentrations).
  • Aluminum Drums - hold materials that would react with rust or steel, and cannot be shipped in poly drum. Contents are often combustible or toxic, such as pesticides.
  • Plastic (Poly) Drums - commonly used for corrosive liquids, some flammable or combustible liquids, and food production liquids.
  • Fiberboard Drums - commonly hold solid materials, such as  powers, granules or pellets. when lined, may also hold gels and some low hazard liquids.

Image result for handling hazmat drumsDrum handling is a common emergency in the hazmat response world. It is one in which our skills can be tested because of the sheer weight of full drums and because it can be awkward. Drums, being round and weighing upwards of 700 hundred pounds, challenge responders and also because problems with drums frequently occur in tight spots such as in the back of a van trailer or in a crowded warehouse.

Handling drums also present physical problems of pinched fingers and toes and even the higher risk of back injuries. Consequently, some teams have found ingenious ways to work smarter and not harder when it comes to handling heavy drums.

The typical method of handling drums is simply called the "bull work" method where responders use their backs and brawn to handle the drum and move it where they want it to go. Injuries that have occurred with this method include strained backs and shoulders. The drum may also pay the price when gravity takes hold and the drum cannot be controlled by responders when lowering it to the ground.
Image result for hazmat drum emergency

is one of the most common control techniques for leaking 55-gallon drums. However, before you attempt an overpack, make every effort to stop the leak.

Overpacking involves placing a leaking drum into a larger drum. Overpack drums are usually made specifically for this purpose. An overpack drum can be used in three ways depending on the orientation of the leaking drum. Invert the overpack drum and place it over the leaking drum. Tilt
both drums horizontally, then vertically, so the overpack drum is oriented with its open top up.

If the drum is horizontal, use a slide-in method. Place the open end of a horizontal overpack drum near an end of the leaking drum. Raise the end of the leaking drum while your partner slides the overpack around the leaking drum. Then, push the leaking drum into the overpack and tilt both
drums to an upright position. An alternative is a rolling slide-in or V-roll method in which you place the open end of the overpack drum under the rim of the leaking drum. Orient the drums so that they form a wide letter “V”. Push the drums from the apex of the “V” so that the rolling motion causes the leaking drum to roll into the overpack drum. Tilt both drums to an upright position.

Whenever overpacking drums, consider the integrity of the leaking drum. In overpack operations, the container will experience a fair amount of stress. The weight of the drum should also be considered. A nearly full 35-gallon drum of sulfuric acid can weigh close to 600 pounds.

When using an overpack container, be sure to:
• Use a drum made of material that is compatible with the hazardous substance.
• Use a drum large enough to contain the leaking container and any spilled product.
• Label the container with the name of the spilled product and the words “Salvage Drum.”
• Avoid placing too much product in the overpack drum, which could cause overpressurization and

Skill Sheet:

Please use the skill sheet that was sent with the email concerning this topic.

Note: Each crew will have to schedule a time with Station 142 to borrow a drum and the overpack drum for the hands-on skills.

Once you have reviewed the material above and completed the overpack skills you can have the class instructor sign off your task book for the following:


Instructor Signature & Date

Identify the basic design and construction features, including closures of the following non-bulk containers:





7.3.1 Developing a Plan of Action. Given scenarios involving hazardous materials/WMD incidents, the hazardous materials technician shall develop a plan of action, including site safety and control plan that is consistent with the emergency response plan and standard operating procedures and within the capability of available personnel, personal protective equipment, and control equipment for that incident by completing the requirements of through


Instructor Signature & Date

Describe the purpose of, procedure for, equipment required for, and safety precautions used with the following techniques for hazardous materials/WMD:










Fire Suppression





Pressure Isolation and Reduction (Flaring: Venting: Vent and Burn; Isolation of Valves, pumps, or energy sources)




Vapor Control (Dispersion, Suppression)



Instructor Signature & Date

Given a 55 gallon (208L) drum and an over-pack drum, demonstrate the ability to place the 55 gallon (208L0 drum into the over-pack drum using the following methods:

Rolling Slide-In


 If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me.

Chief Shafer

Hazardous Materials Managing the Incident 4th Edition
IAFF Hazardous Material Technician program