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Iron Mountain delivers portable housing to drill locations

November 18, 2012
Morning Journal News

SALEM - "It's definitely the shale boom," said Iron Mountain employee, Rod "Hot Rod" Tenney, about why he is a driver for one of three companies occupying a part of the small industrial park in the 10000 block of S. Range Road.

An Alliance resident, Tenney gets the portable houses owned by Wolfpack Rentals used by drilling engineers to the drill sites.

Wolfpack is also located in the industrial park owned by Dan Swindell.

Article Photos

Iron Mountain Specialized, an Elkins, W.Va.-based company, operates locally from its headquarters on South Range Road on the drag strip property. The company services oil and gas drilling companies by delivering on-site lodging and water. Pictured from left are, Joe Monastra, a pilot car driver from Minerva; Robert Booth, the water manager from Salem; Roger Falk, a water-side employee from Lisbon; Mike Booth, a truck driver from Salem; and Robert’s brother; Johnnie Simmons, from Elkins, W.Va., the general manager for the Salem operations; Derek Frederick, a pilot car driver from Salem; and, Rod “Hot Rod” Tenney, a driver from Alliance. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)

Robert Brooks of Salem is the water manager for Iron Mountain, an Elkins, W.Va.-based company. He agreed with Tenney.

"Yeah, if they weren't drilling we probably wouldn't be working," he said.

Tenney said, "I wouldn't be working here."

There are eight full-time time employees and 10 vehicles operating out of the 15,000 square foot garage on Iron Mountain's compound. Job one is deploying the houses to drill sites. Job two is keeping them supplied with potable water and drinking water.

"We make all the executives at the will site comfortable. If they're not comfortable we're in trouble. It's basically their home away from home," Tenney said. "We pull to the site, level them and anchor them in so they don't blow away."

The company uses what are called tote trucks to haul the houses (and which it will uses for trailer park work too when it expands into that) and pilot cars during a move.

When the call comes from the drill site via the "company man," Iron Mountain can move three to five houses a day and the word "day" has some clarification.

It can mean starting at 5 a.m. and finishing at midnight but the the houses cannot be on the roads a half hour before sunrise or a half-hour after sunset. They also have to be aware of curfews, local restrictions weekend prohibitions and other legal nuances.

The crews run a front and rear pilot cars that escort the houses on the approved routes that are determined back in Elkins and with the state departments of transportation.

Booth said they use "Google Earth" a lot to find places "where we might have trouble getting these big houses through."

He explained the pilot cars are front and rear because the houses are so long and wide.

"They look out for hazards, guardrails, keep an eye on the tires and watch for trailer swing.

Booth said the trailer swing relates to the 22 to 25 feet of rear overhang from the rear axle that could hit a utility pole or a guardrail. "That's probably the most dangerous part," he said, "you (the driver) can't see behind you you that's why the pilots are so important."

They don't exceed 55 mph, but Booth said, "Most of the time we're not over 45."

Tenney said, "Sometimes we put these trailers in places they're not supposed to be" and that's why they use a machine called a translift that is taken along on just about every move.

Booth nodded at Tenney, "Yeah, a lot of time these totes aren't the only thing getting these trailers out there."

He explained how the translift is used to get under the houses when they get into a culvert, ditch or need help around a tight turn. The majority of pads have three houses, so when they're making deliveries each house has to stay 500 feet back. If needed water connexes are moved too. Those are 4,000 to 4,700 gallon tanks use for potable water.

Iron Mountain has two water trucks for the potable water and also delivers drinking water in large, disposable five gallon clear plastic containers that is purchased in lots of 200.

Once the houses are set up, Iron Mountain makes routine takes care of the water. "We go every other day," Booth said. "To check and fill them up. You don't want those to run out or it's the end of the world."

There are at least eight rig sites, mostly in Carroll County, that Iron Mountain has on the checklist.

"Everyday, it doesn't matter if it's a holiday," Booth explained. "If we get a call we go right out in the middle of the night ... we go out."

Local septic companies are contracted by the well driller to haul the waste.

Iron Mountain is available for other commercial work like swimming pool water and can be reached at 330-754-5844.



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