By Stephen Clark
If your hangar is like most, then you have probably struggled at times to find a place to put everything in neat and orderly fashion. While simple shelving is adequate for most, it is easy to forget that a hangar can be loaded with hazardous items not typically found in your garage at home.
Lubricants, cleaning chemicals, and even gasoline are commonly found in most hangars this day in age. As our collection of these items continues to grow, our methods of containment may become lacking. Fortunately, striking the balance between safety and affordability is attainable and to help you get there, here are several tips to get you started.
Clean It Out –
On your adventure to corral your hangar’s chemical situation, one of the first things you should do is go through every storage area and take inventory of what you have. Don’t be shy here! Pull everything out into a central area and don’t forget if you have hangar cleaning supplies (even household items such as glass cleaner or toilet cleaner), to pull these as well so you know exactly what you have.
Once your collection is out in the open, begin discarding items that are out of date, are missing labels, and/or simply not needed any longer. It’s worth noting that if you come across any hazardous chemicals that need to be discarded, you should first check your local regulations to ensure proper disposal or recycling. Otherwise, TOSS IT OUT!
In MSDS We Trust –
Now that you have amassed a pile of chemicals, this is the perfect time to take stock of everything you have by itemizing it all on a list. And while your type of operation will demand what you do with this list, one of the best things you can do is to begin putting together a binder for your Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
While most of us are aware of what an MSDS is, it goes without saying that whether you are a professional pilot or a weekend warrior, having relevant safety information for each of your chemicals in a centralized place (in your binder) can help you be better prepared to handle a spill or even accidental exposure.
The good news is that every chemical is required to have an MSDS sheet (even common household items). They are easily obtained through the chemical’s manufacturer for free. If you don’t have time to email each company individually – and face it, who does – the official MSDS website (http://www.msds.com/) has a dizzying 4.5 million sheets on file that you can search for free. Either approach you take should get you everything you need in relative short order.
After you have put together your binder, the final step here is to make sure that each chemical’s container is clearly labeled. Several labeling options are available, but at the very least you can always grab a black marker, a few strips of paper, and a roll of packing tape to get the job done. Remember: Nothing’s worse than using a mystery chemical…
Storage Solutions –
Now that your chemicals are labeled and accounted for, it’s time to start looking at storage solutions. A general disclaimer before we move forward though: Many airports require certain storage cabinets for specific classes of chemicals, so it may be best to check in with you airport’s Fire Marshal on what exactly is required locally, especially if you have any questions. Also, there may exist restrictions on the quantity of a given chemical.
With that aside, chemical storage can really be broken into three categories:
- Non-Hazardous Chemicals (soaps, MOST household chemicals, etc)
- Flammable Liquids (Gasoline, aerosols, etc)
- Combustibles Liquids (paint or Class III’s).
From here, using your new MSDS sheets (you did these right?), all you have to do is separate out the chemicals by type and acquire the correct storage equipment. While general utility storage racks and/or cabinets would work just fine for non-hazardous chemicals, your flammable and combustible chemicals will need specialty chemical storage containers designed to safely store each. Fortunately, both are available from most utility stores or online. Keep in mind the size you will need when purchasing them to ensure everything you have fits comfortably.
The good news is that many sizes are available all the way from a mini 17”x8”x22″ cabinet that would hold approximately 8 spray cans, to larger storage cabinets that can hold entire 55 gallon drums.
Closing Thoughts –
Now that you have followed all of the way through, your hangar’s chemical storage situation has just undergone a major facelift that, in the end, is safer and easier to use and hopefully up to local and/or state code. While this advice may not be fully inclusive for your operation or local codes, the principles discussed are certainly scalable to nearly every type of operation,
If you are concerned about the time commitment to accomplish this task, don’t be afraid to make a weekend of it and invite your hangar-mates (if you’re the sharing type) to help in the task. Chemical storage doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and with a bit of time and due diligence, you are one step closer to having the best hangar in the row.
Stephen Clark is the Director of Marketing for Immaculate Flight, a United States-based aircraft cleaning and detailing company. Stephen has more than seven years’ of aviation experience and has spent time working and supporting business and commercial aviation operators in a variety of roles. Before coming to Immaculate Flight, Stephen served as a charter security coordinator working in support of VIP and athletic teams. In addition, Stephen has also served as a certified Load Master and Deice Instructor for a major US airline. In his free time, Stephen, who has a BS in Aviation Science from Utah Valley University, volunteers as a wing leader with Angel Flight West and was recently nominated to sit on the NBAA Scheduler and Dispatchers Committee. Stephen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immaculate Flight, LLC. is a privately owned company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan that specializes in providing mobile aircraft cleaning and detailing services for a wide array of aircraft owners, fractional operators, and multiple MRO and FBOs based around the world. The company, founded in 2001, is now located in 13 states and over 80 airports in the United States. For more information about Immaculate Flight, please call (888) 858-5123 or visit the company’s Official Website.