It’s just a mechanism to keep spills and fines away, right? No one can
really tell the difference between a cheap, throwaway berm and a more
expensive model. Be prepared to worry, it is hard to spot the imposter
posing as a long-term, reliable containment berm. Worry more if you
are not up to speed on berm fabric verbiage and industry jargon. Not
knowing the difference between fabrics can be a spill incident waiting
to happen. Also, there are an abundance of stay (wall brackets that
hold the berm up) choices to take into consideration as well. Get up
to speed with material choices, wall configurations, and arm yourself
1. Fabric is fabric, or is it? How do you know what kind of fabric will
do the intended job? Will this be a one-off, one-time spill container,
or a multi-use operation? Ask about tensile strength and puncture
2.Is the fabric the right choice for the liquid I am containing? You
might only want to do the job once, but an incompatible liquid and material could lead to a serious spill event. Once you have identified the
liquid you might spill, ask for a chemical resistance chart to make sure
the fabric can handle what you might leak or drip onto the surface.
3.Are you going to keep the containment berm outside for an extended
period? If so, make a point to ask about UV protection within or on
the berms’ top coat. The sun has a significant effect on the materials
longevity, and can break down the resistance over time.
4. How is the area the containment is deploying in affected by Climate
Change? Temperatures swinging wildly can impact the materials’ hard-
ness, which in turn affects the ease of moving the berm, as well as the
ability to place equipment inside it, in addition to driving in and out.
Inquire how the fabric acts in extreme conditions.
5. Is the berm going to see a lot of foot traffic? Will there be workers
moving around the perimeter frequently? There are berms with stays
that are on the interior to keep trip hazards from occurring around the
containment area. Conversely, there are bracket berms that can deploy
the stays under the berm to keep the exterior safer for workers moving
around the area.
6.Do you need to stake the berm down due to windy conditions? Some
berms have outside stays and make excellent staked down contain-
ment. Without staking, a smaller berm could lift and move if empty.
Check the weather where the berm is deploying.
7. Is the terrain rocky? Ground pads under the containment berm can
keep it from puncturing, especially if containing heavy machinery and
you cannot clear the area of rocks or debris. A ground pad can extend
the life of a berm and diminish the replacement cycle.
8. Do you plan on driving in and out of the berm regularly? Superior
quality berms can take a fair amount of traffic, but laying in track mats
can keep the berm from wearing out due to fabric rub.
9. Finally, who is the manufacturer? Even if you are buying a berm
from a commercial outlet, it is vital to know the maker. Containment
berms can last for years, having a reputable fabricator who stands
behind their product is crucial.
To sum it up, not all fabric is the same. Ask for a MSDS and chemical
compatibility sheet to make an educated comparison. Not all stays will
work for the application, check weather conditions and traffic around
the containment berm. Finally, for heavy use and poor terrain conditions, there might be a need for additional ground pads and track mats.
Tim Lewis, AIRE Industrial Sales Manager
Important Questions to Ask When Buying Secondary
Containment Berms 9