Knowing how to deal with fire hazards at recycled materials facilities helps improve safety and reduces risks. Expanding the scope of fire safety beyond the facility itself, and engaging those who provide materials to recyclers, is the next step to ensure the recycling stream remains safe.
Jordan Vexler, chief operating officer at Monterrey Iron & Metal in San Antonio, Texas, recently convened an ISRI Fire Safety Training. In addition to the usual participants of recyclers one might expect at such a training, Vexler partnered with the San Antonio Manufacturing Association to include local manufacturers. I got the chance to chat with her about the training and the somewhat uncommon audience that attended the event.
Why did you decide to convene this fire safety training?
This is something that I wanted brush up on. It occurred to me that no matter how well we train our employees on inspection, if we’re not educating the feeder yards and facilities that haul recyclable material to us or our manufacturers who we pick up material from, we’re not going to be able to effectively stop the issues caused by improper recycling.
It’s my understanding that two trainings were held for two different audiences, right?
Yes. The first day we did the four-hour program for metals recyclers. The second day was for manufacturers. We partnered with the San Antonio Manufacturing Association to get the word out.
It was wonderfully attended. Both days, we had over 100% of registered participations. I think that we had something like 36 to 38 pre-registered attendees, and I believe that we had somewhere between 45 and 50 participants both days. We had to add tables.
By the end, we walked away with a great deal of knowledge about our facility and the manufacturers walked away with a better understanding of fire prevention techniques.
Were the participants engaged in the workshop? How did you find their interactions during the training?
Everybody was very engaged. At the end of the manufacturer’s course, for example, they asked the attendees if they felt like this would be useful to hold again for other manufacturers; everybody’s hands went up instantaneously. In fact, the San Antonio Manufacturing Association president said that he has had people come to him and say how great they heard the course was and that they are sorry they couldn’t participate; they hope that we bring it back.
While day one of training was for metal recyclers, so many people found the information they received useful that they went back to their facilities and sent their colleagues for day two, the more condensed course.
Was there something that you got out of it that you didn’t expect?
The perspective of being the convener. I didn’t host these meetings, but I brought these different groups together. I would say from the convener’s perspective, it was really beneficial to have the ability to educate metal recyclers and manufacturers in our specific region who aren’t ISRI members and aren’t receiving the updated information on the risks and hazards associated with what we do.
A lot of our metal recycling dealers learned about hazards and risks that they otherwise wouldn’t have. One gentleman said that he went in really skeptical and he came out really impressed by the information and was really glad he’d spent the time to come. That was only one of many very positive anecdotes.
What’s your biggest recommendation for someone hosting a fire prevention training?
The education of what is safe to recycle and what isn’t needs to go beyond our employees. Our employees can only control what they can inspect so, the ability to reach into our manufacturing community, into dealers and other metal recyclers, to create common knowledge of what is proper recycling and what materials pose a fire risk downstream of their recycling is really important.
Having manufacturers in the room, they were able to recognize how they are potentially making widgets that could pose an end-of-life risk in the recycling stream. That was an amazing recognition that came up by them and it gave me an opportunity to mention our Design for Recycling® initiative.