Posts Tagged safety

Fire Fighter Forcible Entry Training With Reclaimed Doors

Fire fighter forcible entry training photoThe Bellingham Fire Department was established in 1904. Their well-seasoned department supports fire fighter training for many of the districts in Whatcom County Washington. Annual “Forcible Entry Training” uses props to simulate locked buildings that the crews must break into, in case a fire requires rescue access to the inside of a building.

The Bellingham Fire Department uses salvaged materials from The RE Store and Overhead Door Company to help reduce costs in their training exercises. It also makes good sense to utilize already used doors that will be destroyed anyways in the training exercises. Watch these brave and highly regarded men and women in the following video as they keep themselves fit and ready for the next emergency.

If your community group or business needs materials, The RE Store welcomes your requests for building materials, gift certificates for fundraising events and other in-kind support.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Video posts, Why blog about The RE Store?

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Origins of The RE Store 2 – Salvage safety lessons

The early years (mid 1990s) of The RE Store were full of outstanding opportunities including a burgeoning salvage trade. Bruce Odum, former general manager recalled that quick action was always necessary while out salvaging materials.
“In Mt. Vernon, we pulled out a gorgeous solid hardwood cabinet, but had to leave it overnight due to limited space in the truck. When we returned, the track hoe was sitting on top of  the building in the exact spot that we had left the cabinet..”

school cabinets with glass fronts

Schools like Fairhaven Middle School yield high quality items like cabinetry, slate, and more

Safety has always been a big focus for The RE Store, with the many potential hazards of salvage and used materials. Bruce remembered a safety training that had a bad ending. Lowell, a grad student at WWU was very clean-cut and well-spoken. He seemed like the right guy to run a basic safety course for us. When the class was finished, Lowell left the store. As he walked out of the building, he walked into one of the huge utility poles that held up the building’s soffit outside and broke his nose.

Safety on salvage job sites required vigilance as well.
“We always stayed out of identified asbestos areas, or so we thought. Fairhaven Middle School in Bellingham had these great rolled linoleum tops. We had to cut them in half to get them out the doors. After cutting them up, someone came and told us they had asbestos in them. The site was shut down and everyone had to go home. It turned out that the exposure was not enough to endanger anyone’s health but we learned a lot.”

“One of the cabinets in that same school was filled with cleaning supplies and was downright nasty smelling. We walked away from it and were working at the other end of the building. One of the demolition crews drove through the cabinets with a demolition Bobcat, mixed the ammonia and bleach in the cabinet, and released a cloud of poisonous chlorine gas. The whole building had to get evacuated.”

Bruce related a story about how job retraining was a part of the organization, even in its early days.
“Two Russian brothers were on a program where they could work for us, subsidized by a government retraining program. One was a diesel mechanic and the other had been a farmer. They didn’t speak more than a dozen words of english but they had loads of common sense and a solid hard-work ethic. The brothers wore thick wool coats and stocking hats all year long. They traveled with us for a big salvage project in the Methow Valley. The truck, Goldie, overheated. The Russian guy who was the mechanic pulled water out of a wild mountain stream as we enjoyed the scenic views.”

More tales of the early years of The RE Store to come in later posts.

Check out Part 1 – The Origins of The RE Store

Learn more about The RE Store’s licensed and bonded Salvage Services with free pick-ups on our website.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry

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Things you never knew about The RE Store #1 – Murphy’s Law and evacuations

evacuation mapThe RE Store in Bellingham has only had to evacuate it’s store for emergency purposes on a few occasions. Most of them have been due to power outages. The RE Store’s Bellingham Safety Manager, Mike Printup was detailing store evacuation protocols for our staff meeting in late February, 2010 when Marj Leone, our field crew manager, recalled a strange and curious mishap that took place over a decade ago.

On July 2nd, 1999, only 3 weeks after the tragic pipeline explosion that rocked Bellingham, the Georgia-Pacific (G-P) paper mill and chemical refinery on Bellingham’s waterfront had it’s own large explosion. G-P had leaked chlorine gas into downtown Bellingham multiple times over the last 2 decades. A steam generator at the plant burst and injured four G-P employees. The blast blew out windows in downtown. The Old Town Cafe lost all of its large picture windows that faced onto Bellingham Bay and the Georgia-Pacific facility.

Less than a mile away from G-P, The RE Store was still located at it’s former Holly Street site. The sliding front doors were blown off of their tracks by the explosion.

The store manager at the time, Janet Marino, recalls, “The sliding doors flew off their tracks inward and this huge fir school archway that was leaning over the doorway tipped upright, swayed for a minute and came crashing down in the entryway on top of the gumball machine, smashing it.  Nate Moore made an announcement that there had been an explosion on the intercom. I ran through the downstairs shouting ‘there has been an explosion, we are evacuating the building’ and someone knocked on the doors of the bathrooms. We locked the doors and went outside and agreed to go to Alice Panny’s house on F street because it was nearest. We waited until we heard from Carl Weimer (executive director at the time) what had happened, that it was safe and we went back. We weren’t gone for all that long.”

As Murphy’s Law would have it, an elderly man who was very hard of hearing had been using the men’s restroom and had not heard any of the staff’s inquiries for stragglers. The gentleman came to the front doors and found himself locked inside the building.

Janet goes on, “He was a little disoriented, I think, and didn’t know about the explosion or anything else after it.”

In the end, the gentleman was safe, downtown survived another industrial accident, and it became yet another odd tale in The RE Store’s colorful history.

Posted in: Stories about people, Things you never knew about The RE Store

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