The Safe-T-Cover Blog

Podcast: Enclosure & Confined Space Safety

Posted by Cary Wiley on September 29, 2021

Here at Safe-T-Cover, we're passionate about all things related to enclosures. We've recently started a podcast to talk to others in the industry. We want to get the conversation started and keep it going, so we've enlisted friends, colleagues and notable industry figures to bring their perspectives to the enclosure and confined space discussions. Here's a recent podcast we worked on with safety expert Brent Oaks. 

Transcript

Cary:
Welcome to the Safe-T-Cover Podcast, where we take a little time to chat with the folks who make the water industry so very, very interesting. On this episode, we'll interview Brent Oaks, a safety expert from Decatur, Alabama.

Cary:
So, we got Brent Oaks here. He works for NAFECO. Brent and I had the pleasure of having booths next to each other at the Kentucky/Tennessee AWWA Show here recently. Brent sells a lot of safety equipment. So we got talking about safety stuff, and obviously that's big for Safe-T-Cover, but I wanted to get Brent on our podcast here and chat a little bit about safety products. Brent, can you tell us just a little bit about yourself?

Brent:
NAFECO is a family business. My dad started the business back in 1968. We started out by refilling fire extinguishers is how we began and not to say this braggingly, but instead of stretching our story out, we're still here in 2021. My dad still is the CEO or president of the company, works every day and we sell our products all over the world. We have footprints in about four states. We sell fire trucks, turnout gear, firehose, anything in the fire world, safety supplies in some form. So God has really blessed our business and we cover a large gambit of items in the safety world. That's from fire to EMS, to police, to construction and so forth.

Cary:
Excellent. That sounds fantastic. We definitely need all your safety expertise. And one of the things we talked about at the show was a confined space. And so that's obviously a big thing for Safe-T-Cover. We want to get people out of confined space, but tell me a little bit about how many products are involved to properly enter a confined space.

Brent:
Well, you got a handful, you have to start up with the biggest thing you got to start with there is your entry information. When you're going in what's considered confined space, someone's doing an assessment, a safety evaluation of what the job entails. You will need a confined space gas monitor of some type. You want to make sure that you're sniffing the gas and making sure that it's clear before you enter. And then just how are you going to enter it? Are you entering it from the top, the side and how does that work? Want to make sure that your personnel outside that confined space is not only trained at what to do in case there was an incident but that person is paying attention. Sometimes companies tend to just want to say, we need a warm body, but that that's not true. You need someone capable. I'm 5 foot 10. I weigh 275. So if I get passed out, if I pass out, it's going to take pretty good size man to help get to me. So how are you prepared to do that? And so we offer the confined space equipment from the tripods to the harnesses and breathing air systems, NCDAs, gas monitors. NAFECO is a distributor for at least one brand and some equipment in a couple of different brands.

Cary:
Awesome. We preach this all the time. There's a lot of equipment involved. Like you said, I think you mentioned five or six products just there. So could you estimate a cost of that? If a municipal team or a contractor or something has to enter, we generally deal with vaults. So they're going to be coming in from the top. So you got to have fall protection as well. Any idea of a ballpark cost on the equipment needed for that?

Brent:
If someone had to go out cold turkey, if you wanted to use that term and buy that equipment. So if you buy a tripod with a couple of winches that you need, you have a working winch, as they call it, then your raising winch, you don't use that winch to lower people. So that piece of equipment, harnesses, hardhats, confined space gas monitor, you're looking at a minimum, $5,000 just to get basic entry stuff. And then, of course, the more people you have, the more equipment you have, of course it goes up. So yeah, it's a, that would be a very minimal amount to get started, but it just goes up from there.

Cary:
So if you or I fell down in one of those vaults that would have to be a pretty strong winch to get us out of there.

Brent:
That's right. That's right. Because what you have to consider is basically the way confined space works is they want a man outside the hole. But again, if you're at the top of the tank and fall, you got to make sure that the guy going down that the air is clean. Sometimes, sad to say, what happens is someone has overtaken, maybe a valve was opened or a pipe was broken. Now the tanks is contaminated and the gas is heavier than air. So it's going to the bottom of the tank. No one knows that. And the guy goes down without an SCBA or an airline or the appropriate equipment and now he's overtaken. It would take, possibly two guys, because now you've got to hook you or me up to the tripod and now to raise us up.

Cary:
Well, that's good stuff. It definitely goes along with our safety precautions and all the additional equipment it takes. You had talked about a safety precaution that you learned very early on in your career that I thought was really interesting.

Brent:
Like I said, I'm in my mid fifties. And again, as mentioned, I'm in a family business. So I've been working for my dad since I was 15 years old. So I don't say that again to brag but I've seen a lot of different programs and the old Monsanto plant, they've got a facility here in Decatur where our office is at, but they had a program back in the mid-eighties. It was called Take Two for Safety and of all the things I've been around in my life, and I had mentioned this as well, it's still fresh for me. But it was the theory behind it was just take two, which was two seconds, two minutes, two hours, two days, two weeks, but just take two for safety. And the older that I get, the more relevant that is. I'm not 18 and bulletproof as I like to think I was at one time. But as we're doing things, when we step off of a ladder or onto a ladder are our feet and our eyes doing the same thing? If we're headed in a direction and someone gets our attention, the appropriate thing to do is just to pause. Don't keep moving or keep working, but if you're working at heights, are your feet and hands at the same place at the same time, because if not, now you've got a problem.

Cary:
Yeah. I think that's great words to live by take two, whether it's like you said, two seconds, two minutes, two days, two weeks, two years, whatever it is, take the two, just to be safe.

Brent:
Thank you.

Cary:
Brent. I appreciate you appreciate your time. And I was also interested. You have an interesting nickname.

Brent:
Yes, yes. I have. God has blessed me to have a good personality and so I got asked to do something at our company Christmas party about oh, roughly 15 years ago. And so I did an Elvis routine. My wife found a karaoke CD. The restaurant we were at had some sound equipment. And so I sang a little bit, and I sang Blue Christmas for them.

Brent:
(singing).

Brent:
So we had people striking their lighters, turning their cell phones on. So NAFECO also offers embroidery work. And so the ladies here embroidered Elvis on the back of my shirts and my hat. And so if you want to find out, you'll probably forget my name, but if you called NAFECO and asked the receptionist, I don't remember that guy's name, but he said his nickname was Elvis, she'll push a button and my cell phone will ring.

Cary:
Well, that's good stuff. I'm a big karaoke singer myself. So maybe we'll see each other on the circuit somewhere.

Brent:
Maybe, I doubt it very seriously, but it's a great laugh. I think we're all a little bit too tight and too serious and take life just a little bit too serious and we need to enjoy it. We need to enjoy our families. We need to make sure that we keep the Lord at a very high place in our lives.

Cary:
Absolutely. All right, man. Well, I sure appreciate your time and thanks for the great stuff. Is there anything about NAFECO we can include in here? Obviously we'll send as much stuff your way as we can because we're selling safety equipment all day every day, so.

Brent:
Check us out on the website. You can go to the NAFECO. You could do www.nafeco/ and that's N-A-F-E-C-O/iso, which stands for our industrial safety division and you'll see some things about us, but NAFECO again, we've been here 53 years, so we've been around a long time. So we're going to sell you a quality product and we're going to sell that to you at a fair price, and we've got to back it up by excellent service. I don't believe you'll find very many companies out there that are going to give you the customer service that we will give you.

Cary:
Nice. Nice. Well, that's good stuff, man. I sure appreciate you. And I'm sure we'll see you around the bend at the shows.

Brent:
So as my man would say, thank you, thank you very much.

Cary:
That's great, man.

Cary:
(singing).

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