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We are the greatest Smoke School in the world.

What happens when the EPA writes you up?



·       How do I choose a smoke school provider?

ANSWER: You need a smoke school provider who follows the requirements of 40 CRR 60 and are audited by the EPA, state and local environmental agencies.  You also need a training provider that understands the importance of friendly customer service, such as we do at Whitlow Smoke School.


·       What sets Whitlow apart from other smoke school providers?

ANSWER:  CUSTOMER SERVICE!  Whitlow smoke schools start long before anyone arrives at the site.  We use compasses and weather radios to set up the optimum conditions for reading opacity.  We choose locations that are convenient and conducive to reading opacity.  We find locations that provide the following:  trees for contrasting background to read smoke on cloudy days, shade, shelter from the elements and clean restrooms. 

We want you to be comfortable so we bring a positive attitude, coffee, water, food and a few extra chairs.  We provide all of the test papers, pens, and extra clipboards.  We relieve the stress by providing a little friendly competition and awarding prizes.  We tell comical stories that help lessen the stress level.  We give test takers the proper time to complete the test. 

Remember the person who administers the test holds all of the keys to how hard the test is.  You will never find a Whitlow crew with a negative attitude, not doing our homework, not realizing that the test is stressful, giving incomplete or inaccurate instructions, rushing the test, calibrating improperly, not checking the zero drift, generating black smoke from a firebox that does not have a pilot light, using confusing answer sheets, or rushing while calling out the correct answers.

We train our employees to avoid these errors.  If you notice a discrepancy during your training, we encourage you to stop the training and discuss the matter.  We also welcome suggestions on your critique sheet.  If you notice one of our employees not living up to the Whitlow reputation, tell them and let me know smokeschool@yahoo.com!


·       Why does Whitlow Enterprises offer a one-day school?

ANSWER:  Our mission is to teach you everything that you need to know to evaluate compliance and evaluate opacity in real world conditions.  I realize that your best shot and your only shot at becoming an opacity expert is at smoke school.  This is your chance to learn how to do it correctly and to know that you are doing it correctly.  We take this responsibility seriously.  We want smoke school to become second nature to you.  The best way to accomplish this and not waste your valuable time is to complete the school in one day.


·       Where can I find the EPA Guidelines for Visual Opacity?


·       Why is smoke school needed?

ANSWER:  Search your permit for opacity, visible emissions, EPA Method 9, and EPA Method 22. If you find these terms then you are required to attend smoke school. Your permit will inform you of potential sources, allowed opacity, and frequency of opacity readings. Federal and state employees are required to evaluate opacity as a part of an inspection to determine compliance with air quality permits and regulations.  If your company is concerned about clean air and pollution control, you need to be trained.  If you are concerned about state or federal inspectors seeing your smokestack, then you need to be trained.  If you are concerned about issues such as job security, environmental complaints to the state inspectors, class action lawsuits, then you need to be certified.


·       How can I request a brochure from Whitlow Enterprises?

ANSWER:  You may contact us. For requesting a brochure, we will send you a box of chocolates made especially for you by Charlie’s Candy (www.charliescandy.com) .  Just let us know your name, your company’s name, mailing address, telephone number, your current smoke school provider, and a brief description of your requirements to use EPA Method 9.

·       How often should I take smoke school field training?

ANSWER:  Every six months

·       Who needs classroom and how often do I need the classroom?

ANSWER:  Anyone who has never been certified for Method 9 should take the classroom.  It is recommended that everyone take a refresher classroom course every 3 years.


·       What does Smoke School Consist of?

ANSWER:  In most cases Whitlow conducts most of our training in one day, except in Texas because of the unique smoke school requirements.  Everyone reports at 8:00 am.  Before testing begins, we have a mini-lecture to teach the basic fundamentals of how to take the smoke school test and how to reach opacity in the field.  Next we teach you the basic fundamentals of how to take the smoke school certification test.  We then show you how to read opacity.  After this, a smoke school practice test is given.  Then we evaluate your performance.  After all of the instructions and practice, we then present the smoke school opacity certification test.  We grade the field test on site and you know if you passed the test.  Once passing the test, you are free to leave or you can attend the classroom.  Don’t forget, we offer a free lunch!


·       What is the secret to passing the smoke school test on the first run?

ANSWER:  Choosing the right smoke school provider!   Whitlow smoke schools follow the requirements of 40 CRR 60.  Whitlow training has been tested by court.

·       Will Whitlow Smoke School’s  training and certificates stand up in court?

ANSWER:  Yes, Whitlow training has been tested by court.  Click here to learn more.


·       What is opacity?

ANSWER:  According to Wikipedia, “Opacity is the measure of impenetrability to electromagnetic or other kinds of radiation, especially visible light.”  In Whitlow’s simplified version, “Opacity is the term used to refer to the blockage of light.” Visible emissions opacity refers to the amount of sunlight blocked by smoke or dust between the observer’s eyeball and the contracting background on the opposite side of the plume.


·       How many people should be certified at my plant?

ANSWER:  We strongly recommend that you maintain a staff of certified evaluators to read the opacity of each source at least once during every daylight shift. A small plant should have at least 4 certified evaluators. You should consider training your environmental staff as well as safety, operators, and security. We offer half day sessions at each smoke school location so you can send some people in the morning and some in the afternoon. We have special discounts for multiple attendees.


·       What items should I keep on hand for reading opacity at my plant?

ANSWER:  You should maintain the following smoke school items and keep them readily available for reading opacity:  clip board, 2 ink pens, compass, weather radio, golf scope range finder for measuring distances, Method 9 Forms, Instructions for Method 9 Forms, Ringelmann/Opacity Smoke Chart,  and a Boudreaux Level.  This is critical if you need to conduct an evaluation due to a citizen complaint or due to the arrival of an inspector.  If an inspector conducts evaluations at your plant, then you should send a certified opacity evaluator with the inspector to conduct joint opacity readings.


·       How should I prepare for a state or federal visible emissions evaluation and inspection?



·       How do I complete a log book for visible emissions compliance?


·       How do I get certified for Method 22?

ANSWER:  EPA requires attendance in a setting such as the EPA Reference Method 9 Classroom Lecture to become familiar with the terminology and the principals of opacity. Certificates for Method 22 are not required. Whitlow Enterprises will issue a certificate for attending the Lecture.


·       Where can I get a copy of EPA Method 9?



·       Where can I find instructions and a form for EPA Method 22?


·       What are the basic fundamentals of reading opacity in the field?

ANSWER:  (1)  Choose an observation position—sun to your back; winds blowing perpendicular to your line of view (from left to right—not coming at you or going away from you); get back at least 3 stack heights to obtain a vertical angle of 18 degrees or less; use a Boudreaux Level to determine your vertical angle; choose an observation position that allows a contrasting background (you can not read white smoke with white clouds in the background, nor black smoke with black clouds in the background); and use a Ringelmann Smoke Chart.    (2)  Choose the correct observation point—the densest part of the plume; no steam at the tip of the smokestack before the plume spreads; attached steam touching the smokestack, observing at the end of the steam plume the densest part of the plume after the steam ends or evaporates; and detached steam not touching the smokestack needs to be read before the steam starts or after the steam ends   (3) Recording observations—Opacity observations shall be recorded to the nearest 5 percent at 15 second intervals on an observational record sheet—record at least 24 observations which each represents the average opacity of emissions for a 15 second period    (4) Data reduction—Divide the observations

recorded on the  on the record sheet into sets of 24 consecutive observations (a set is 24 observations and need not be consecutive in time and in no case shall two sets overlap) then calculate the average summing the opacity of the 24 observations and dividing the sum by 24 and record the average opacity on a record sheet.


·       What do I do if my observation evaluation is out of compliance?

ANSWER:  (1) Notify your operator and plant manager immediately  (2) Get permission to shut down the process and fix the problem  (3) Conduct another evaluation after the problem is corrected


·       What are the consequences if industrial plant environmental staff fails to follow basic opacity fundamentals?



·       Where can I find links to regulations and websites for every state environmental department?



·       How can I subscribe to receive email updates about all changes to EPA Regulations and comments?


·       Where can I find proposed and final EPA rules?



·       How do I register for Smoke School?



·       Does Whitlow Enterprises offer discounts if I send multiple employees from my plant?

ANSWER:  If you send:   5 – 9 attendees:  5% discount


                                            10 – 19 attendees:  10% discount


        20 attendees or more:  20% discount


·       If my company has never used Whitlow Smoke School before, do we qualify for a discount?

ANSWER:  Yes, new companies will receive a 10 percent discount for attendees.


·       What are the standard fees for Whitlow Smoke School?



·       What should I bring to smoke school?



·       Can my family attend smoke school with me?

ANSWER:  Yes, immediate family members are welcome!  They are free of charge unless they require visible emissions training for employment purposes.  If the school is hosted by a plant, please check before bringing family members.  They may have insurance restrictions.


·       How long does smoke school last?

ANSWER:  Most Whitlow Smoke Schools are conducted in a one day training (Texas requires two days for classroom and field). You can take the field-test and attend the classroom in a single day. If you just need the field-test, you should be finished in one and one half hours after we start the actual certification test.  Most people pass the test on the first run or at least during the morning session. 

·       What should I do if I am late, lost or need to change my date for smoke school?

ANSWER:  Contact us and we will notify the crew chief.


·       When do I receive my certificates?

ANSWER:  Within three weeks of the school date you should receive your certificate(s)


·       How long are the smoke school certificates valid?

ANSWER: Classroom Certificates:   These certificates are valid indefinitely. Most states follow the EPA guidelines and recommend the classroom every three years. A few states require the classroom every third year. Please check your state environmental agency to see how often you are required to take the classroom.

Field Training Certificates:  These certificates are valid for 6 months after the certification date-- the date you took the smoke school test. We mail out these certificates within 3 weeks after you pass the test- even if your invoice has not been paid.   Please contact us if you have not received your certificates within the above stated timeline.


·       Are Whitlow Smoke School certificates valid in all of the United States and its territories?

ANSWER:  Yes, Whitlow Enterprises’ Smoke School EPA Methods 9 and 22 visible emissions opacity certification programs follow EPA guidelines in accordance with 40 CFR 60 Appendix A  . The last time I checked, the EPA has authority over all of the United States and its territories.


·       Does Whitlow Enterprises provide smoke school locations in Texas?

ANSWER:  Yes, TCEQ has approved Whitlow Enterprises to provide smoke school training for both 1 and 2 day sessions according to Title 30, Texas Administrative Code.  Visit our schedule or locations page to view Texas smoke school locations.


·       How do I schedule a smoke school at or near my plant?


·       Can we get Whitlow Enterprises to schedule smoke schools for all of our company plants in the nation or region?



·       Will Whitlow Smoke School conduct training for my state or federal agency?

ANSWER:  Yes, contact us!  We will match any fees you are presently paying for smoke school!


·       Will Whitlow Enterprises come to our plant and read opacity?

ANSWER:  Yes, we certainly will.  contact us!


·       Will Whitlow Enterprises conduct an audit of our visible emissions documentation for compliance with regulations?



·       Can I earn a discount for referring friends from other plants or companies to a Whitlow Smoke School?



·       Can our company receive government reimbursement of smoke school fees?

ANSWER:  There are usually 2 agencies in your state that offer government reimbursement of your training expenses for smoke school, hazmat and other training:

(1)  Almost any vocational or technical college in your state:


     1.  Search Google for these colleges in your state


     2.  Search their web page for training reimbursement


     3.  Call the college and ask about training reimbursement

(2) Government Grants-Reimbursement for smoke school and all training fees-Incumbent Worker Training Program  (IWPT )


·       How do I get on the mailing list to receive announcements for Smoke School?


·       Will George make public speaking engagements for my group?

ANSWER:  Yes contact us




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