Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for November, 2022

15 Years Later: Remembering Chicago’s Fire Chief John Eversole

November 30th, 2022 by Laura Denk

Filed under: Industry News

As I wrote the article about lithium-ion batteries I could not help but remember the legendary Chicago Fire Department Chief John Eversole.

  • It has been 15 years since he passed, but his legacy lives on.
  • If he were alive today, you know he would have a lot to say about the safety of firefighters and lithium battery incidents. He would be at the forefront of training hazmat teams and fire departments on how to respond to the complexities of lithium battery fires.

Why it matters: Firehouse Magazine remembers that he was recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on hazardous materials and the threat of terrorism. In the early 1990s, Eversole and other chiefs began warning that the nation was not prepared to respond to a major hazmat attack by terrorist groups.

As a member of the Chicago Fire Department for 38 years, he was among the pioneers in the hazmat field when fire departments began organizing specialized hazardous materials response teams. He served as chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Hazmat Committee and became a strong advocate for many of the protocols and techniques that are used today in hazmat operations. He served as a consultant to industries, the military, and universities concerned about the danger of hazardous materials.

He frequently went to Washington to testify before congressional committees on the nation’s state of readiness to meet a terrorist attack; Eversole and his fellow chiefs didn’t pull any punches in letting Congress know that the nation was woefully unprepared. Among the problems they cited were unrealistic planning, not enough money and resources, ineffective communications, inadequate training, turf wars, and a lack of coordination at the federal level. Long before the 9/11 attacks, they called for a single agency to direct the federal effort and provide more support for local fire departments, who would be the first responders in every disaster.

Many military and congressional leaders came to respect Eversole’s knowledge and common sense.

  • He believed that the more incidents a hazmat company ran, the more skilled it became. “In hazmat, you learn something from every incident, large or small,” Eversole explained.
  • He had a way of reassuring people.
  • A recently retired CFD district chief said: “I always felt better when John showed up on the scene.”

A lot of people felt that way about John Eversole, which is why he will always be missed. But his living legacy will be more and better hazmat teams, staffed by firefighters who believe that casualties of any kind are unacceptable.

October is Fire Safety Month

November 23rd, 2022 by Laura Denk

Filed under: Industry News

October is National Fire Safety Month and according to the International Association Fire and Rescue Services, the number of lithium-ion battery-related fires has increased fivefold in only six years. This may seem like surprising numbers since lithium-ion batteries are technically safer and less likely to fail today than a decade ago. 

The increase is really a numbers game: the amount of appliances using batteries as a power source – rather than powered by a wall-powered cable is increasing, and the more batteries you use, the higher the risk. The popularity of battery-operated drones alone in recent years has contributed to more high-capacity lithium-ion batteries being stored and charged in households around the world. 

These days lithium-ion batteries supply power to many kinds of devices including smartphones, laptops, scooters, vape devices, smoke alarms, toys, and cars.

The problem: These batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space.

  • Sometimes batteries are not used the right way; batteries not designed for specific use can be dangerous.
  • Like any product, some of these batteries made by unscrupulous manufacturers can be defective.
  • They can overheat, catch fire, or explode.

Signs of a problem: The National Fire Protection Association advises that you stop using a battery if you notice these problems: odor, change in color, too much heat, change in shape, leaking, or odd noises. If it is safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 9-1-1.

Proper disposal: Do not put lithium-ion batteries in the trash. — Recycling is always the best option.

  • Take them to a battery recycling location or contact your community for disposal instructions.
  • Do not store discarded batteries in your junk drawer or in piles!

Go deeper: For more information on lithium-ion battery safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association website.

Just one word. Mushrooms!

November 16th, 2022 by Laura Denk

Filed under: Industry News

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

When Walter Brooke, as Mr. McGuire, spoke those words to Dustin Hoffman in his legendary role as Benjamin Braddock in the classic 1967 film The Graduate, audiences would not have known just how enduring the future of plastics would be. Since 1976, plastics have been the most used material in the United States, but are mushrooms going to take their place?

Ecovative, is a mushroom technology company founded in 2007 that designs and grows sustainable materials that come straight from nature. Non-toxic packaging and building materials are a matrix of mycelium –mushroom strains – fused with cleaned and ground agricultural waste. The raw materials can be molded into whichever shape is desired and are used to ship a wide range of products – from bottles to candles and beauty products, as well as to create building materials and thermal insulation panels.

We wonder: Are drums made from mushrooms coming next? 

Wine Sustainability: The Glass Bottle Problem

November 10th, 2022 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

This past spring, food and wine writer, Samantha Maxwell, made the following observation in an article for VinePair: “Sustainability is a buzzword in every industry, but when it’s used in reference to wine, there’s an immediate association with organic vineyards, biodynamics, and the ever-elusive concept of ‘natural’ wine. Until recently, every time I carried my clanging, beautifully labeled bottles from the nearest natural wine shop home in my canvas tote, I would revel in my eco-friendliness knowing that I had avoided the mass-produced juice I used to drink straight from the spigot when I was in my college years”.

But is natural wine really the answer? Are we as responsible and environmentally savvy as we think? Maxwell goes on: “As it turns out, I am not the wine-sipping environmental warrior I had imagined myself to be. Because while responsible farming practices may be important in producing wines that have a minimal negative impact on the environment, sustainability in the wine world comes down to the packaging just as much as the wine itself. And though glass may appear to be the better option, those pretty bottles you keep long after the wine has been consumed are not that great for the environment.”

The truth is that for all of the opportunities to reduce the footprint of winemaking, many ignore (or are just ignorant to) one of the biggest problems. In fact, Sarah Trubnick, founde rof Northeast Wine Company and owner of The Barrel Room in San Francisco, says that of all the packaging options for wine “glass is the worst, hands down.”

Yes, there are situations where glass packaging is required. An age-worthy wine, for example, shouldn’t be sold in boxes or cans. But young, ready-to-drink wines? Wines that are being picked up on the way to a picnic, party or relaxing night at home? There’s no reason those can’t be packaged in other materials. 

And indeed we’ve seen increasing popularity in canning or boxing wines, but the standard still seems to be the glass bottle…and that’s a problem; a problem that starts with the production of the material itself. Glass must be smelted, a process that requires natural gas. Immediately, glass is in the red on the sustainability front.

Trubnick, who is a known entity in wine but who’s background is in science, explains that glass isn’t as recyclable as many think. Whereas aluminum is easy to recycle, “you’re looking at maybe a third of the glass in your glass bottle being recycled.” And that is, of course, if the bottle makes it to the recycling center to begin with. As of 2018, the EPA found that less than 40 percent of glass wine and liquor bottles made it into the recycling bin. Perhaps because of their weight or the space they can take up in the bin in comparison to cans and cardboard boxes, perhaps for some other reason. In either case: bottles aren’t consistently disposed of properly. And yet, they are still the ‘standard’ vessel for wine.

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the environmental benefits when you use our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and 100% recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

FEMA Adds Two New Refresher Courses

November 9th, 2022 by Laura Denk

Filed under: Industry News

According to a recent post from HazMat Nation, FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness has added two new courses to its distance learning library – Toxic Gas-Forming Reactions Training (TRO) and Post-BioWatch Actionable Result Sampling Refresher Training (Post-BAR).

Both web-based courses are an hour long and were developed in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.

Why it matters: TRO teaches public safety officials and first responders how to recognize, identify and respond to a wide range of toxic gas threats.

Post-BAR teaches responders how to conduct environmental sampling following a BioWatch Actionable Result, in accordance with established standard operating procedures.

The DHS BioWatch Program monitors for biological agents intentionally released into the air. It acts as an early warning system, enabling rapid response to reduce illnesses and deaths from a bioterrorism attack.

The courses join more than 20 other self-paced, web-based training offerings on the CDP website.

Are More Open Head Drums for Solids in our Future?

November 2nd, 2022 by Laura Denk

Filed under: Industry News

In the news: A recent article in the Wall St. Journal details that manufacturers spurred by sustainability concerns are removing the water in shampoos and lotions and selling them as powders.

What they’re saying: Anyone who has strolled the hair- and skin-care aisles of their local drugstore knows there are a bewildering array of products. Despite the various brands and patent-protected formulas, one thing they all tend to have in common is the first ingredient: water.

Shampoos and shower gels contain up to 95% water. Lotions aren’t far behind with up to 90% water, and creams can have 60% to 80% water.

But the drugstore aisles may be starting to dry up. For reasons ranging from sustainability to skin sensitivity, an increasing number of entrepreneurs and some well-known manufacturers are now coming up with beauty and personal-care products that aren’t so waterlogged—or contain no water.

Nevertheless, these products will face “performance challenges.” Meaning that if the powders, bars, sheets, and concentrates don’t perform as well as, if not better than, traditional water-based products that consumers are using, then they are unlikely to make the switch.

Our thought bubble: As we see this trend move through the supply chain, are we likely to see OEMs make the same switch resulting in the use of more open-head drums for solids material and fewer drums for liquids?