From Tires to Fires: Take Care or Get Burned

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[Synopsis: Those metal trailers can get hot in the summer. Take care… or get burned, like me.]

My career in the transportation industry began not with a moving company but with a freight service. I spent two high school summers working with a buddy for his dad’s trucking business where I loaded trailers with car tires at the Bridgestone and Michelin distribution warehouses, day after sweaty day.

One tire at a time we loaded them, each of us throwing 20-25,000 pounds worth of steel-belted radials in a day. We stacked them in walls called tiers, interlacing the tires to make optimum use of trailer space. We climbed these tiers to cram our tires all the way to the roof because if they didn’t all fit on the trailer the first time, we’d have to pull them out and pack them in tighter.

Even getting them all on the first time, loading 25,000 lbs. of tires onto a trailer took the better part of the day, and after hours sitting out in the middle of a macadam and concrete industrial area in New Jersey, underneath the steamy sun-scorched trailers – in particular their metal roofs – would sizzle like a skillet of bacon. Meanwhile, I’d be cramming my tires into every last bit of space under that frying pan. Inevitably, my back or my arm would come in contact with that hot metal.

My friend in the next trailer knew when it happened because he could hear the screaming.

Fast forward to my move crew days…

Now I was loading trucks and trailers with customers’ belongings. Now it was the Denver, Colorado summer sun beating down and heating up that metal roof. And with my second-degree burns from my tire-loading days having just healed, I knew enough to take care when trying to slip those last few skinny items up into that tiny space on top of the load.

During these scorching summer days, be sure to take care and be aware of the skillet heating up over your head. Keep your skin and your customers’ stuff off of that hot plate. Because like these folks in Queens, New York, you never know what might start burning.

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