How Do NCIS Agent Gibbs’ Rules Apply to Secondary Containment?

NCIS is arguably one of America’s favorite television shows, and currently the most-watched drama on CBS. The show, originally a spin-off from JAG, focuses on the criminal investigations conducted by a team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who follow the lead of Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Gibbs, excellently portrayed by the beguiling Mark Harmon (who, believe it or not, was the second person ever to be honored as People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” in the January 27, 1986, issue).

Whether you love or hate Agent Gibbs, almost anyone who watches the show can’t help but respect him. His tough demeanor is necessary in the field, but offset by the genuine compassion he directs toward his team members. Like many talented leaders, Gibbs makes a point to guide and teach the people he works closely, often referring to an extensive series of guidelines dubbed “Gibbs’ Rules.” Since the show first aired in 2003, approximately 30 rules have been revealed, covering an array of topics.

Some of Gibbs’ Rules are generic; some are specific to criminal investigation. And some, we’re delighted to inform you, are applicable to secondary containment. Here are Gibbs’ Rules of Secondary Containment.


Rule 3: “Don’t believe what you’re told. Double check.” (From Season 1, Episode 1: Yankee White)

We only knew about the two square pads in the containment area when the drawing was done.
Concrete Pillar
There were also four round pillars in the containment area; on two of the pillars, it seemed the concrete may have burst when it was originally poured.


Sometimes, when on site for an install, the plans aren’t always accurate. In this example at a substation in West Virginia, the drawings showed two square pads in containment areas; however, once they got on site, they realized there were actually two square pads PLUS four pillars of about 6-7 foot in diameter in the containment area as well. Two of the pillars appeared as if the concrete forms busted when the concrete was poured, causing them to appear almost twice the size they were supposed to be. This install, which normally would have taken three men about two and a half days to complete, took a total of 5 days. Could this have been avoided? Maybe, maybe not. Drawings are based on what the customer tells us. But we can always ask questions, to see if the person we’re working with is even that familiar with the site. And of course, always having extra of the materials we’re installing is pretty standard. On a C.I.Agent® Geomembrane Liner System installation, we usually have at least twice as much polyvinyl than the drawing calls for … just in case.


Rule 9: “Never go anywhere without a knife.” (Season 1, Episode 13: One Shot, One Kill)

Pumping Vault
This project was turn-keyed, so we provided the vault for the client. We weren’t prepared to pump water out of it, though.


Okay, replace the word “knife” with pump, and it makes more sense. During a turn-key install of a multi-port HFF in Ohio, it wasn’t until the vault was opened that the workers realized it had water in it. They lost a lot of sunlight trying to find a pump and get it to the site. Now, when our guys do an install, we recommend they bring a portable pump along with their installation supplies.


Rule 15: “Always work as a team.” (Season 5, Episode 5: Leap of Faith)

This one is just common sense, right? All of the secondary containment projects we do require teamwork, from the original drawings to the construction of the products to the installation at the substation. The construction of a Geomembrane Liner System, for instance, requires different people performing different roles to complete it. Someone cuts the polyvinyl, then someone else sews it, then someone else welds it. And once in the field for an install, working together is a necessity – it is never a one-man job! When unexpected problems arise, it’s great to discuss with the rest of your team to come up with solutions.

Teamwork Secondary Containment
Teamwork is key when installing secondary containment. It’s important to work together to solve issues that may arise.


Rule 45: “Clean up the mess that you make.” (Season 7, Episode 24: Rule Fifty-One)

Belmont Installation
Rainy, dreary weather can make for a dirty, dirty installation!
Belmont Final Polyvinyl Installation
Once the liner is covered with clean, washed stone, the installation is complete! And SPCC-compliant.


Because of excavation and uncontrollable weather condition like rain or snow, installing secondary containment can be messy work. But the great thing about secondary containment products like our Geomembrane Liner System is that they must be covered with clean, washed stone. Looking at the end result, you’d never imagined it was such a dirty process getting there.

Those are just a few of the ways Gibbs’ Rules can apply to secondary containment. If you have any others you can think of, let us know!


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