Ohio Blaster Prefers Kentucky License

by Diana Barnum

Licensing requirements for blasting differ from state to state. Although Koker Drilling Company and its subsidiary Webster Blasting Company are Ohio-based and most of their blasting operations take place in Ohio, company owner Larry Koker prefers Kentucky licensing.
“A Kentucky Blaster’s License requires a two-day test and seminars,” said Larry Koker, “It’s the toughest in the nation, so I make sure my people have this.”
The Koker Drilling Company, founded in 1958, is known for quality drilled shaft foundations. Three generations of drillers have installed thousands of shafts for many buildings, towers, masts, bridges, dewatering wells, sound barrier walls and retention systems.
Drilled shafts are high bearing and shear. Koker’s professional estimators are familiar with the soil and substrata conditions in most geographic areas, minimizing costly “extras” that may occur on the job site. They conduct feasibility studies and on-site consultation with the owners and design engineers, when deep foundations are advised.
Subsidiary Webster Blasting Company focuses on site development, highway construction, utility trenches, quarries, pre-splitting and concrete demolition.
Koker was instrumental in the research and adaptation of the carbide-tipped rock bit, which provided dramatic improvements in rock drilling production. As part of the companies’ efforts to continue their commitment to excellence, Koker continually searches for industry advancements in drilling technology and new product developments. And they want the best training they can find for their people. For continued education, Koker sends their staff to the Kentucky Blasting Conference every winter.
“Explosives is a big business in Kentucky,” said Larry Schneider, director of Kentucky Division of Explosives and Blasting, referencing their many coal mines and quarries. “We started the program in 1972, earlier than most other states and require 16 hours of retraining every three years. Kentucky is pretty progressive.”
A couple of current jobs for Koker Drilling and Webster Blasting include constructing foundations for 13 ODOT bridges and site development for Stein Mart department stores in Westerville and Delaware County. As soon as pre-blast surveys are completed, their operations will begin.
Summit Testing and Inspection Company in Akron and Bowser-Morner, Inc. in Dayton conduct pre-blast surveys for Koker. With the owners’ permission, they will inspect homes and businesses in the marked Stein Mart areas. The inspection is for protection against future claims after blasting and contains photographs and measurements of existing cracks in the settlement, driveways, sidewalks, etc. Koker boasts zero claims filed against them.

Another project coming up is the construction of Westridge Estates with Developers Management Corporation (DMC) in the Akron area.
DMC called Koker to blast rock for utilities; sewer and water. Their $100,000 Phase I site development calls for approximately 3,300 feet of sewer, utilities and manholes and 12 basements. When streets are cored out and cut stone is down, a two-man crew will blast below what they need with an Ingersoll 490, making 3 1/2 -inch diameter holes, generally in limestone and hard sandstone. They’ll make 20 to 30 holes 4- to 5-feet apart, varying from 6 feet to 30 feet in depth, depending upon rock type. In all, the crew will set off about four or five shots per day.
“The driller and powder man keep in constant touch because within 10 feet, rock can change,” explained Koker.
Koker prefers non-electric caps so that no radio frequencies can set them off accidentally. For caps, detonation boxes and other blasting needs, they turn to Evenson Explosives based in Morris, IL, and Austin Powder of Cleveland. And they set up their own seismograph equipment from D and L Thomas Equipment Company, Geophysics and Barber-Tech.
An ongoing project, won through bidding for the second year in a row, is with AEP (American Electric Power). Koker crews travel throughout 22 states drilling foundations for AEP power poles.
Koker’s tough standards definitely keep them busy. To learn more about Kentucky licensing, contact Kentucky Division of Explosives and Blasting, 1025 Capital Center Dr., Suite 301, P.O. Box 2244, Frankfort, KY 40601. Call: (502) 573-0140 or fax inquiries to: (502) 573-0152.
For more information about Webster Blasting Company or Koker Drilling Company, contact them at P.O. Box 250, Vandalia, OH 45377. Call: (937) 667-1425 or fax inquiries to: (937) 667-0578. E-mail inquiries to: driller10@aol.com, or visit the company’s website at: www.kokerdrilling.com