On March 24, the Annandale Campus hosted its twelfth annual Community Shred in partnership with NBC-4 and Allstate Insurance. The event was co-hosted by Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook of the Braddock District and supported by the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program and Shred.
It was the largest NOVA Community Shred ever held. Three thousand vehicles came through the campus with people dropping off documents to be shredded, a substantial increase over the 2,000 or so vehicles in previous years.
Shred-It, which deployed 13 heavy-duty shredding trucks for the event, reported that they collected 61.76 tons of shredded paper, far surpassing the previous record of 45 tons set at the 2014 Community Shred.
“That is a huge increase,” said Conrad Mehan, Newington Complex Manager for the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program, which supplied two packer trucks and workers to collect cardboard boxes left by participants and recycle them. “My vote is that it is because of identity theft concerns.”
Tony Ong, NOVA Police Sergeant at the Annandale Campus who coordinated the logistics and traffic management for the Community Shred, said “With identity theft on the rise, I am glad to see an increase in participants in this year’s shred.”
“We are also excited that NOVA and the NOVA Police Department were again able to help provide this service to our community,” said Ong. He was one of nine NOVA Police officers who worked at the Community Shred. The others were Lieutenant David Smith, Lieutenant John DeGurse, Lieutenant John Weinstein, Officer George Nformi, Officer Jared Williams, Officer Nicole Fisher, Officer Juan Cardenas, and Officer Lisa Zandel.
The Community Shred started at 8:00 a.m. and ended at 11:00 a.m. in the B-15 parking lot. NBC-4 sent one of their “Storm Team 4” trucks to periodically show live shots of the Community Shred on the Saturday “News 4 Today” show. They cut into the show for a live segment featuring Kristina Ogburn, NOVA Public Information Officer, who spoke about NOVA’s sustainability efforts, and cybersecurity and other academic offerings.
The public is informed before the event by on-air promotions and information on the NBC-4 and NOVA websites that there is a four-box maximum of documents they can bring for shredding and that only paper will be accepted, specifically warning against including batteries or any metal larger than a paper clip.
Someone apparently did not heed the warnings as there was a surprise just before the Community Shred ended when smoke started billowing from the top of one of the Shred-It trucks. Either a battery or a piece of metal went through the shredding machine, igniting a smoldering fire in the truck’s shredded paper storage area.
The truck was pulled out of the line and directed toward the loading area beside the Ernst Center adjacent to the parking garage. NOVA Police officers closed off the area and the NOVA Police Dispatcher called 911. Fairfax City and Fairfax County fire personnel rapidly responded, and the fire was quickly extinguished before it started blazing.
“The truck that caught fire was not fun,” said Chad Hebert, Regional Transportation Manager for Shred-It. “We had a team of three continuing to deal with this truck for several hours upon its return to our facility. Several of its components were ruined during the fire.”
It was the first time anything like that had happened at a Community Shred at NOVA, although the Shred-It company stated that it is not an uncommon occurrence. Luckily, no one was injured and the fire did not slow down the Community Shred activities for the participants.